Hundreds of beach cleaners who said they were hired by the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) to clean Monrovia’s beaches gathered in front of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Tuesday, July 22, violently demanding their salary arrears.
The protesters also threatened to take hostage LMA Commissioner, Binyan Kesselly, if they did not get their pay from the MFDP before the July 26 Independence Day celebration.
In September 2012, the LMA promised to create 10,000 jobs in five years and contribute up to US$120,000,000 to the Liberian economy. Many are now wondering if that promise will be fulfilled in the face of management’s alleged failure to pay its employees as indicated by the current protest.
According to the protestors, since January 2014, they have been engaging management about their arrears, but to no avail.
The protesting LMA workers alleged that authorities of Maritime urged them to go to the MFDP to be paid from the Maritime account, “but the two entities—Finance and Maritime, have refused to pay us.
“We, too, are humans like Binyan Kesselly and his cronies. Why will he choose to treat us like this? He makes a fabulous salary, and it has never been delayed; why will he make us to work like slaves without pay? We need our money,” the aggrieved protestors retorted.
They told this paper that they went through many difficulties on the job. The beach workers said they usually encountered unbearable sights on the beaches, and on many occasions had to bury some other “bad, bad things” without raising alarm, while they worked without protectors and other safety devices.
They added that the LMA Management is indebted to them for six months, covering the period January to June, which according to them is a lot of money that, if paid, would help them take care of their families for the ‘26,’ and also pay their children’s school fees for the coming academic year.
When contacted, however, a senior Maritime official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied the protestors’ claim.
“There is no way that Maritime will send its workers to Finance for pay especially where there is no such arrangement between the Finance Ministry and the Maritime Authority.
The only thing I am aware of is that we (Maritime) told the cleaners that we are not responsible to pay them from January to June, 2014, because they were not in Maritime Authority’s fiscal budget for that period,” said a Maritime source, who begged not to be named.
However, the Maritime source disclosed that the entity is doing all it can through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to pay the beach workers today (Wednesday, July 23, 2014).