… As Gov’t begins payments of salary arrears
The nationwide strike action by the Civil Servants Union of Liberia, which began yesterday, might end soon as government has begun to disburse outstanding salary arrears.
Although both sides still have some outstanding and have not agreed on a deal yet, the move by the government to begin the disburse the employees’ salaries arrears is a show of compliance with the Union’s demands.
While the impact of the strike action yesterday was not huge, it still hinders government operations as many workers did not show up for work.
Earlier, the union demanded the regularization of its members’ salaries and full payment of all outstanding salary arrears—something which the government might not be able to commit itself looking at the current economic situation.
“We are not deterred by the turnout and will press on if the government fails to meet our demands,” said Moibah K. Johnson, president of the Civil Servants’ Union of Liberia. “While we have not agreed on a deal yet to call off the strike, the message has gotten across. It is not numbers we are looking at, but its impact and this is exactly what happened today.
“Because of the strike, the government has now begun the payments of civil servants salary arrears but not in full compliance. We requested down-payments of all outstanding salaries, but the government is only paying for two months when they owed more than four to five months,” he said.
Mr. Johnson further added that the next cause of actions will be determined later today, December 17, at the end of meetings with the government negotiating team to a final deal with the Union.
The ongoing strike, if it continues without any deal, will badly affect government operations and service deliveries, as more workers will join their colleagues and stay home.
“We are excited about the meetings and hope something good comes out of it. If not, we might likely continue our action,” Mr. Johnson said. “However, I am sure this will not be the case, as we all want to find an amicable solution to the problem. We never wanted to strike but the government forced us since they reneged on their obligations in the first deal we had.”
While the government has now begun payment of its worker salaries, the liquidity crunch in the country had made it difficult for the union members to redraw monies from their respective bank accounts, especially in Liberian dollars.
“Currently, our members are not getting Liberian dollars from the banks, but the situation is not the same with the United States Dollars. However, this situation needs to be resolved quickly and we hope that the government does, if we will agree on a deal.
“As a union, we attach serious interest to the well-being of our members and will not sit idly and allow them to swim hopelessly in the bottomless pit of not being able to redraw monies from their accounts during the festive season,” Mr. Johnson added.
Meanwhile, Cletus Noah, the Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, has confirmed that the government has begun the payment of civil servant salary arrears.
“Yes, we have completed salaries for October and have started payment for November as well,” Noah said in a text message response to a question from the Daily Observer.
The Civil Servants Union of Liberia is the mother body of all government employees across the country.