— Over protests for unpaid wages
The Management of the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation has dissolved the Workers Union of the entity and dismissed three employees who the management say grossly disrespected the Manager of the public agency
The LWSC, which is an autonomous agency of the government, said its action was based on “Gross insubordination and misconduct” on the part of the workers acting through their union.
It added that the workers union, which comprises more than 500 employees, has been immediately dissolved on acts “incompatible with decency and gross insubordination on the job.”
The move by the LWSC comes amid escalating tension between the workers and management over unpaid wages.
In a statement, the LWSC said actions by management came in the midst of a planned meeting between the Managing Director and the president of the workers union, which could not take place due to disrespect exhibited towards the manager of the entity by some members of the union.
Defending his boss’s action, LWSC Communications Director, Nimpson Todd, said the entity’s decision to dissolve the union was based on “lack of confidence as they “Cannot continue to have individuals in the system purporting to be leaders when they express absolutely no level of respect and regard for authority.”
It can be recalled that the LWSC workers acting through their union has been striking for a considerable period of time for their unpaid wages. This has led to public protest and shutting up the senior management team of the entity from leaving the compound for several hours.
‘We want our pay, our children and families are dying. Since June 2019, no pay,” the LWSC workers chanted during one of their protests. They also chanted rogue, rogue slogans not only for unpaid salaries but to draw the attention of the central government and the public to the refusal of the government to settle their seven months transportation allowances.
They also complained about the lack of tools and safety gear to enable them carry on their assigned tasks and responsibilities void of hindrances, and accused their bosses of allegedly living extravagantly as evidenced by their appearances and persistent change of vehicles while the living conditions of technicians remain appalling.
“The working condition at the LWSC is like working in hell. We have to bring our tools from our houses to work,” one of the protesters stated. “Donor funding to the LWSC has not been adequately managed to actualize the core values for which the entity was established.”
But for the LWSC management, the continued protest actions of the workers union is something they could no longer accept and has shown strength by sacking employees who were part of the union leadership. Those sacked includes Ralph Jahny, Fred D. Gardley and Henry Gbiah.
According to Todd, LWSC’s decision to dismiss the three staff is in consonance with Chapter 14.3 A of the Decent Work Act of 2015 and had requested that they turn over all government’s assets in their possession.
“In the wisdom of the Corporation, we cannot continue to have such elements in our system and controlling our employees,” Todd added. “The LWSC is a Public utility and a para- status institution; therefore, the existence of a Workers Union Leadership is a privilege and not a right. The LWSC is therefore calling on all employees to go about their normal work duties as heads of departments who are clothed with the authority will supervise the Corporation‘s staff.”