By: Jeremiah Sackie Cooper
Warren Street,Monrovia-March 31, 2023: Scores of Workers of the Ministry of Transport Friday March 31, 2023 staged a day long protest in demand for incremental benefits and salaries for their services in keeping with section 16.2 of the “Decent Work Act” of Liberia.
Section 16.1 of the Decent Work Act provides that Liberians working in both private and public institutions are entitled to a minimum wage of US$0.68 per hour or US$5.50 per day or a minimum of US$150.00 per month.
The Aggrieved workers accused authorities of the Ministry of transport for refusing to pay 25% of their salaries in the last five (5) years, something that is creating setbacks and severe hardship.
“They are taking 25 per cent of our salaries, we don’t know where that money is going. For the past government nothing like this happen”, the workers lamented.
The protesting employees which included inspectors, climate scientists, and maintenance officers among others expressed frustration with the ongoing salary harmonisation policy instituted by the Liberian government in 2019, stating that it is unfair for them to remain committed to their jobs but at the end of the month they receive little earnings.
The payroll harmonisation introduced in April 2019 to minimise salary disparity, was intended to revamp the Liberian economy, ensure fiscal discipline and enhance domestic resource mobilisation among others.
“This is time we engage the media so that our people can know what is happening. They told us about the harmonisation and that they are going to work on it but nothing is working. So what we do know is other entities and other ministries carry out the same action and they were listened to, so we must carry on the same burden and the same way. I was making US$400.00 but the government cut it down to US$150.00”, Jefferson Brown, an aggrieved Transport Ministry worker told WOMEN’s TV-Liberia.
They furthered argued that the Ministry of Transport is currently violating the Decent Work Act by underpaying staffers who are rendering similar services as it is done in other agencies.
“We want to be equal with others agencies and ministries. We must have equal salaries, so we are not begging you, we are not asking you (Government) but we are demanding, we demand it. Nothing will bend us”, they added.
They however threatened to reassemble on Monday, April 3, 2023, if nothing is done by the government to address their concerns. “We coming with black suits on Monday, Red suits on Tuesday and our children will come along with us in their uniform”, they noted.
From all indications, employees of government-run institutions have frowned on the Harmonization policy; terming it as a means to reduce low earners income. Since the introduction of the harmonization and standardization policy, there has been complaints of delay in the payment of salaries, while others suffer a massive reduction in salary, significantly shrinking their disposal income, leading to strikes by health workers and employees of other government agencies and ministries across the country.
Meanwhile, Transport Minister Samuel Wulu is threatening legal and administrative procedures to resist any planned protest by the aggrieved employees.
He made the disclosure Friday when arrived at the ministry to calm the protesting workers.
The Ministry of Transport was created by an Act of the National Legislature on August 25, 1987, to formulate and administer the transport, insurance and maritime regulations and policies of Liberia. These include the oversight responsibility for the execution of policies relating to land, sea and air transport services operating within the country. It is also mandated to ensure strict adherence to insurance standards and regulations in collaboration with insurance agencies operating in the country.