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Standards Laboratory seeks autonomy

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-as contractors cry for pay

Contractors at the government-run National Standards Laboratory, who have worked for the entity for about 11 years are requesting for permanent employment thru the Civil Service Agency.

The National Standards Laboratory, currently located at the Ministry of Public Works on Lynch Street in Monrovia, is under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. But some 33 contractors there complained they have not been paid since October 2020, subjecting them to severe hardship without money to cater to their families, including providing for their children’s education.

The Director of the National Standards Laboratory Stephen Y. Mambu, who spoke to the New Dawn on Wednesday, 27 January, explained that the entity was established through support of the regional body ECOWAS during the administration of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to test commodities entering the Liberian market from ECOWAS countries. Mr. Mambu confirmed that since the NSL was established, all staffers have been working as contractors, including himself, as director.

According to him, he is not the appropriate person to speak on the workers’ employment status and enumeration, instead referring this paper to the Director of Human Resource at the Ministry of Commerce for relevant information on the status of the contractors.

However, he disclosed that since the NSL was formally turned over to the Government of Liberia, support has not been forthcoming, something, he said, that needs serious consideration.

Director Mambu also confirmed The National Standards Laboratory has a total of 33 contractors whose role includes testing goods brought in by government, private businesses, and individuals.

He called on the National Legislature to give serious consideration to an Act currently before that august body that to establish the Liberia Standards Authority (LSA) as an autonomous institution. He lamented that presently, the entity has no vehicle or motorbike to facilitate its daily operations which poses serious challenge.

He emphasized that due to the entity’s current status, it has been unable to deploy staff at various border points and other areas in the country.

The NSL boss said if the Act to establish the Liberia Standards Authority is hopefully passed by the National Legislature, the entity would have to employ additional workers because it needs at least 140 workers for its operations nationwide.

At the same time, several contractors of the NSL are calling on the government through the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) to regularize their status as permanent employees and pay them three months’ salary arrears.

They expressed hope that the Ministry of Commerce would give immediate consideration to their plight by disbursing their wages, noting that they are going through serious constrains daily in reporting to work without pay.

By Emmanuel Mondaye –Editing by Jonathan Browne

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