Hundreds of beach workers who were hired to keep Monrovia’s beaches clean, yesterday gathered in front of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to demand eight months wage arrears.
The workers also threatened to take their protest to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the current office of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as part of their options to ensure that the government settles their salary arrears.
According to spokesperson Edwin Kanneh, the beach workers have complained to the United States Embassy. They have also petitioned members of the Legislature and held a personal conversation with President Sirleaf and House Speaker J. Alex Tyler as well as other top government officials.
Their situation, Mr. Kanneh said, has remained the same without any positive sign as to when their arrears would be paid.
“The group includes about 1,900 people from the slum communities of West Point, New Kru Town, Fish Market, and ELWA Community,” he said.
They were hired by the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) to ensure that all beaches around Monrovia are kept clean.
“We ensured that during the outbreak of Ebola, there were no cholera and diarrhea outbreaks in the country and if we cannot be rewarded, we must at least receive our arrears,” Mr. Kanneh stated
“We are Liberians. Why will Minister Amara Konneh continue to have us treated like this? He makes a fabulous salary which has never been delayed. Why will he make us to work like slaves without our just benefits? We need our money,” Mr. Kanneh demanded.
According to him, some Liberians believe that they are more important than their fellow compatriots. As such, they don’t prioritize what affects the interest of ordinary people.
Based on his perception, he vowed that his group will continue a “peaceful protest” until their arrears are paid.
He appealed to the National Oil Company of Liberia (NOCAL) to intervene by making the money available to pay them as they continue to work to maintain cleaner beaches in Monrovia.
“We are involved in cleaning our beaches and also protecting them from illegal mining, but we believe that government has taken this project as a political tool,” Kanneh said.
Kanneh claimed that there is what he described as “reliable information” that they might not receive their arrears because they did not vote for a particular candidate during the recent senatorial elections.
He told reporters that they were going through many difficulties on the job even during the Ebola outbreak in the country. But they have always tried to ensure that there was no cholera outbreak.
“The money in question would help us take care of our families, our rents, our health and also pay our children’s school fees.”
Meanwhile, the communications director at the MFDP, Abraham Warity, told reporters that the Ministry has agreed to pay the workers beginning Friday, May 29.
“The Ministry will pay them the first five months and the remaining three months will be negotiated,” he explained.