Tension brewed on Thursday, August 14, at the Randall Street office of Mercury-Liberia after employees stormed the company's offices in demand of their salaries.
They were demanding that the company settle their arrears, when executives announced that their contracts had been terminated due to the rapid spread of the Ebola virus in the country.
Mercury-Liberia is the operator of the Premier Sports Betting Games in Liberia.
The employees in an interview with the Daily Observer described the termination of their contract as “illegal” and called on government to hold the company responsible to pay them off.
The employees through their spokesperson, Barnabas S. Nagbe, explained they were shocked to hear from the company’s management about the termination of their contract.
“They told us in the meeting that they were suspending their activities in the country, due to the outbreak of the Ebola virus,” Nagbe said, quoting the company’s management.
“Because of that they wrote and informed us that they have agreed to terminate the contract we have with them,” he narrated.
“We know about the Ebola outbreak in the country; but, if they are terminating our contact, then they need to pay us for the remaining months. We signed a one-year contract with the company; and if they are terminating the contract, they need to pay us,” Nagbe further explained.
He called on the national government to intervene and have the company settle their arrears.
However, the communication of termination of contract, a copy of which is in the possession of the Daily Observer reads: “Following calls from the Liberian authorities restricting large gatherings of people in response to the Ebola virus, which is affecting many Liberians, we at Mercury-Liberia, wish to take our responsibilities seriously and are deeply committed in helping in the national efforts.
“Therefore, from Wednesday August 13, we have taken the decision to close gaming centers in line with government advice.
“All of our lotto games and sports betting games will be temporarily closed to protect all of you and us and for the company to play its part in helping stop the spread of the Ebola virus.
“Sadly, this means, in line with your contract, we have to give you one month advance to terminate your contract with effect from Wednesday, August 13.”
In conclusion, the communication said, “You will be paid one month salary for August and half of your salary for September, taking you up to the 13th of September.
“You will not be required working for this period, but will continue to be paid until September 13, in line with Liberian laws.”
When the management of Mercury-Liberia was contacted through mobile phone, they could not deny nor confirm the communication.
Instead, they told our reporter that they would issue a response in due course.