Normal working activities at the premises of Abi Jaoudi Supermarket’s Fresh Frozen Food (FFF) Company came to a complete halt Monday, 11 March for over ten hours when workers stormed the company’s office in demand of their wages and benefits.
The workers from different departments of the company were led by their chief spokesperson Augustine Johnson and co-spokesperson Tejaneh Doepla.
They besieged the front entrance to the main office chanting slogans: “We want our money; We are tired suffering under Abi Jaoudi and FFF.”
The protesters included drivers of light and heavy duty vehicles, and cold room operators, among others.
The protesters claim that the management of the company is supposed to pay their wages and benefits, but they have allegedly refused.
According to Spokesman Augustine Johnson, the workers and the management went through legal battle at which time the Labour Ministry requested Abi Jaoudi management to pay off workers who decided to leave the entity.
Since that decision was allegedly reached by the Ministry, the protesters claim that nothing has been done to resolve the situation.
Mr. Johnson explains that the management owes the workers over US$200,000.00.
He laments that the workers are compelled to abandon their assigned duties in demand of their money.
He accuses the company of allegedly deducting the money in question from their salaries over the years.
Mr. Johnson lamented further that workers are responsible for their own medications.
In alleged violation of the Labour Law of Liberia, Mr. Johnson alleges that the company fired some of their co-workers.
During the protest, the management of the company invited the workers’ leadership to resolve the situation.
According to Mr. Johnson, the company has scheduled a meeting with the protesters for Tuesday, 12 March to address their concerns.
He discloses that as head of the workers, he is under obligation to ensure that there exists peaceful working environment between the workers and the management.
He therefore appeals to his colleagues to listen to him by waiting until the meeting on Tuesday is held.
When contacted, the Administrative Manager of the company, Mr. Jason Weni says the management of the company has no direct discussion on the claim being made because the workers and management went through a legal battle at the Ministry of Labour.
Mr. Weni who preferred not to be recorded, explains that the Ministry resolved that the management of Abi Jaoudi pay-off workers who do not want to work with the entity.
According to him, workers that decided to leave the company were paid-off with all of their benefits as prescribed by the Ministry of Labour.
Mr. Weni observes that most of the workers that are protesting do not really want to leave the company, but they expect to be paid – off while still working.
Meanwhile, Mr. Weni urges protesting workers to go back to the Ministry of Labour if they have any grievances, warning against inciting their colleagues to abandon their duties.
By Emmanuel Mondaye –Edited by Winston W. Parley