Labor Minister Moses Y. Kollie has provided an update on the work of the ministry, highlighting companies that are maintaining their workers amid the Coronavirus pandemic that has brought many businesses and companies to their knees.
Minister Kollie speaking to a cross-section of Liberian journalists during an online press conference on Monday, May 18, said the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a serious challenge to the labor sector as well as forced several companies to scale down their operations and workforce.
According to him, there has been no closure of any major company since the outbreak, but however acknowledged that there had been some redundancies of some employees which he attributed to difficulties the pandemic has created for income generation to pay all employees.
Minister Kollie said: “The labor sector is being affected because it represents the human factor in producing goods and services in the economy. Many employers are complaining to sustain Pre-COVID-19 wages, while employees complained about threats.”
These complaints, he said, resulted from the lack of ‘a provision’ in the current Decent Work Act on temporary reduction that could help address some of the prevailing issues raised by workers at these entities.
However, Minister Kollie said a ‘National Tripartite Council Policy’ was drafted for employers and employees by stakeholders in the labor sector, which result in an amendment to the COVID-19 guide to help address the situation.
He said the policy among other things, calls for “the suspension of any new discussion for collective bargaining,” and that all other bargainings before the end of March remain enforced.
The Labor Minister maintained that “All employers pay nonessential employees 50 percent salaries and benefit beginning May 1, 2020.”
Minister Kollie further told journalists that the mandate is not extended to government workers, but people in the private sector.
“Paying nonessential workers 50 percent salaries and benefits do not cover state-owned enterprise workers and employees, because the government is paying all of its workers all salaries and benefits,” he said.
Since the drafting of this policy, according to him, companies and some businesses continue to work in line with said guidelines, while others remain committed to paying all of their employees.
He continued: “Firestone has maintained 72 percent of its workforce at the tapping areas and Estate Department with 20 percent being declared nonessential.”
These include rubber purchase, administration, and education department. GVL Liberia has redundant 10 percent of its workforce and maintained 90 percent in line with the Decent Work Act of Liberia.
BEA Mountain located in Grand Cape Mount has maintained 90 percent of its workforce and 10 percent redundant, Monrovia Breweries now maintains 70 percent of its workers and 30 percent redundant.
He furthered said that seven workers at the Farmington Hotel were redundant, which he attributed to challenges faced as a result of the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the airport sector in Liberia.
The hotel is situated right opposite the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County.
Minister Kollie also used the platform to acknowledge MNG Gold, Liberia Agriculture Company ( LAC), and ArcelorMittal among others, continuing to maintain all of their staff, though issues relating to redundancy of former workers at ArcelorMittal remains unresolved.
He noted that as per the policy, those redundant will be immediately reemployed as full-time workers at their various places of work after the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Liberia.