Aggrieved textile employees say they have not been paid for several months; Employer says complaint is politically motivated
Aggrieved employees of JAMCOD, a textile printing company, have accused the CEO and General Manager, Crayton O. Duncan, and his wife Jamillia of refusing to pay them for several months though they (employees) have been dutiful on the job.
The employees of the textile and printing establishment at ELWA Junction that does business with a lot of schools and businesses requiring uniforms, brought their grievances to the Daily Observer yesterday claiming that they have not been paid since December 2016.
The employees said the business is managed by Mrs. Duncan, who they said has often been at odds with them. However, according to them, her husband Crayton, who is the former Chief of Staff to former Central Bank Governor Dr. Joseph Mills Jones and a legislative aspirant in Sinoe County District #1, pretends to intervene “but is not reliable as he has promised on several occasions to pay us but always reneges when time comes.”
According to graphics designer Christopher B. Dompo, since he started working for JAMCOD in December, he has not received his pay. “I have waited on my pay for this long owing to the fact that we received payments from groups like Salvation Army, who paid the company US$20,000, DRIMS Academy that paid us US$7,000, David Barshell School System or Royal Kids School, US$10,000, and a whole lot more payments. I used to double as an accountant after the accountant quit, so I know about some of the payments that came in. I was patient because several times she will even fill out the pay request forms only to disappoint us at the end,” he said.
Speaking to thirteen (13) of the employees that trooped to the Daily Observer office in Paynesville to state their case, they said they have tried every other means to get their pay, even going as far as doing extra work at the home of owner Jamillia Duncan, to no avail.
According to a letter written to the Minister of Labor, Neto Z. Lighe, Sr. dated March 16, 2017, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, the employees, who claimed they were illegally dismissed, said that despite several calls made to the Duncans for their pay, they have not received their wages for the time worked. Apart from the ministry, the employees said that they have been to LBS and even held protests at the establishment in Paynesville, without getting any resolution to their problems.
“While we were at Labor Ministry, Crayton called and rubbished our case. After that we went there so many times, but we didn’t make any progress. The husband and wife made a boast to Mulbah Kesselely of LBS that no matter where we take them, nothing will happen to them,” said tailor Alberta Smith.
Speaking on labor practices at JAMCOD, the employees alleged that Mrs. Duncan subtracts tax withholdings from their pay each month and even have a birthday susu program where she deducts money from their pay to give to the person collecting the susu that month, with many claiming they never received their share. For Alberta Smith, she said that Mrs. Duncan would take some of them to her home to do housework for which they were never paid. They also alleged that they never filled out employment forms and that monies collected from debtors were used to buy campaign materials, including motorbikes, for her husband’s representative bid in Sinoe County District #1. They claimed that out of 150 employees at the establishment at one point, there are presently two employees still hanging on.
Many of the aggrieved workers said apart from their outstanding salaries, they were and are still frequently verbally insulted by Mrs. Duncan on the job — at times going as far as insulting their parents, an act thy have always frowned upon and at times complained about to her husband.
When contacted for comments, Mrs. Duncan did not deny nor confirm the allegations but indicated that the aggrieved are a group of people who have abandoned their obligations on numerous occasions, and were unfit for their respective positions.
She also indicated that the issues with the employees are labor related, for which she has always instructed them to take her to the Labor Ministry if they want to seek redress. “These are group of people that I decided to help but they are showing that they don’t deserve help. I personally helped some of them, give them clothes, take them to my house during parties and identify with them personally. Now I know that Liberians don’t deserve help.”
She further indicated that the former employees’ actions are politically motivated. “They are doing this because they know that my husband is contesting in the upcoming elections in Sinoe, this is why they are doing this. But as I said, let them take me to labor,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, attempts to reach Mr. Duncan were fruitless because his phone numbers were switched off.