The entire workforce of the Liberia National Port Authority (NPA) under the banner of the Dock Workers Union of Liberia on Friday of last week went on a strike action, stalling all activities of the Freeport of Monrovia for one whole day.
The workers, through their president Jomah Kesselly, said that the intent of the strike action is to draw the attention of the entire senior management team including the board and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on the bad labour practices at the Freeport of Monrovia, the gateway to the nation economy.
Mr. Kesselly said that some time ago, the Liberian government signed a 25 years contract with a Danish company APM Terminals, to take over the operations, technical, marine and some parts of finance department of the Freeport of Monrovia.
He noted that the signing of the contract into law by the Liberian Legislature is a clear indication that workers in those departments named above are out of job. “The Matilda Parker management has failed to tell us our fate, we have been discussing with the management about two months now, yet no result and the worse thing is that this company is gradually encroaching on us”, he said.
According to him, workers are demanding US$5,000 as payoff and their severance package, “But management is not willing to trend that path.
The NPA Management is considering this exercise as downsize and right size policy which is far from the true, I think this does not exist in modern economic world, new company taking over, meaning everything will be new, the company under the law will take their own workers, so they should pay us off”, he said.
All warehouses and all sub offices within the port facilitates were all sealed up. Generators and water supply within the port were cut off. The demonstrators got angrier when Board member Mary Broh came to scene and decided to refer to the strikers as “bunch of stupid people”.
Speaking to the press Friday in Monrovia, on the strike, NPA Board Chairman Beyan Kessellly said that the management shall utilize the labour law of Liberia as a bench mark to identify the payout for each affected employees. “This strike causes the port to loose millions of United States Dollars, which is a big blow to our economy”, he said.
He further said that the law requires, as identified in section 4503 of the labour practices law of Liberia, that due notice must be given seven days to the employers. “But in their case they never gave notice.”
He called on all employees to return to work immediately, “and the workers are advised, that the board shall not hesitate to stringently apply and with immediate effect, the laws of the land up to and including summary dismissal under the guidelines section of 1508 of the labour practices law of Liberia to ensure the economic and security interest of the state.”
Meanwhile, some intensive meetings with the Dock workers Union from Friday to Saturday of last week, have resulted to resumption of work.