Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson has declared illegal the recent strike action staged by the workers of the National Transit Authority (NTA) in front of the Foreign Ministry.
According to him, the Labour Ministry has no communication informing it about planned strike action by the NTA Workers in keeping with the Labour Law of Liberia.
He said he has given a final warning letter to be issued to the Mother Union of the NTA Workers Union (United Workers Union of Liberia or UWUL) and a notice of suspension of it’s mother union certificate, should there be a reoccurrence.
Minister Gibson has cautioned them that any go-slow must be done within their premises, but staging a protest before the Executive Mansion will mean that it is not just a labour issue, rather it is politically motivated.
He said that the next time an illegal strike takes place in entities under their supervision of UWUL and it is established that the workplace union is ignorant of the rule, the Ministry will suspend their license.
During the meeting, the Ministry said that UWUL is held responsible not just because the strike was declared illegal, but because they have not fulfilled their role of having workshops with the workplace union to educate them on the procedures to be followed and the conditions met before embarking strike action as is enshrine in the Labour Law of Liberia.
The Labour Minister said that from the explanation of the Chairman of the NTA Workers Union, it appears that UWUL has not been playing her role as a Mother Union noting that, “If the Chairman does not know the rule of engagement with regards to strike, it means that his members will not know as well.”
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Gibson has mandated the Management of the National Transit Authority (NTA), to fully adhere to Article 38 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) entered into between the entity and its workers, which calls for the provision of a Rice bonus to workers during July 26 and Christmas celebrations.
In his decision following a meeting with the Management and Workers Union, held at the Ministry of Labour on Thursday, July 22, 2021, Minister Gibson mandated the Management of the NTA to deliver to the workers their rice before July 26.
The Minister also has ordered the Management to ensure that all workers of the NTA receive at least one month’s salary and the fifty workers who have not received any portion of their arrears should be paid an additional one month of their arrears.
“It is also our considered opinion here, that Management should strive to ensure that the total salary arrears should be settled within the period of three months. If for any reason there are financial constraints that make it appear not possible to achieve this, the Ministry must be informed before the end of sixty days, where we will open a dialogue between the Management and workers, but they must not be taken by surprise.”
Speaking on the issue of rain gear, Minister Gibson noted that rain gear is very essential and the Ministry will expect that the NTA management would ensure that the workers receive their rain gears beginning August 2021.
He reassured them of the Ministry’s commitment to working with the Liberia Labour Congress in assisting unions with the tools through workshops to educate workers on procedures and their rights to strike.
In conclusion, the Labour Minister has with immediate effect mandated both the workers union and management to ensure that the buses are put back on the road before July 26, enabling citizens to commute freely during holiday celebrations.
Meanwhile, Management of the NTA has assured the Minister of Labour that the distribution of rice to workers will commence immediately and that salaries will be paid to all workers before July 26. The management has also promised to adhere to mandates of the Ministry of Labour.
For their part, the workers said the strike was provoked by news of the unceremonious planned departure of the Managing Director from the country without the settlement of their just benefits.
They hailed the Minister for his timely intervention and assured him of their preparedness to return to work immediately.