over US$82K Unpaid Salaries
The courtyard of the Capitol Building hosting the members of the First Branch of Government was on Tuesday, September 3, 2019, a scene of chaos when the over 15 workers of the MHM Eko-Liberia staged a ‘peaceful protest’ in demand of their alleged unpaid salary for 15 months AOJIN US$82,560.
The amount, according to some protestors, is owed by the secretary of the Senate Nanborlor Singbeh.
Tuesday’s protest is the second in five months against Singbeh.
He holds 30 percent of the business in question, while two Czech Republic nationals, Pavel Miloschewsky and Martin Miloschewsky hold 35 percent each as a share of the business.
During Tuesday’s protest, the aggrieved employees submitted four separate communications to Vice President and President of the Senate, Jewel Howard-Taylor; Senate Pro-Tempore Albert T. Chie, Senator Oscar A. Cooper, and the chairman of the Margibi County’s legislative caucus, Representative Ben Fofana, as they called on them to prevail on Singbeh to pay their ‘just benefits.’
The employees, who turned aggrieved, paraded with several posters with inscriptions like: “Singbeh, you are not above the law; pay our benefits.” Other reads,” Singbeh, you are corrupt, enough is enough, pay our 15-months salaries.”
When contacted at his capitol building office while the protest was ongoing, Singbeh said his company did not legitimately employ any of the aggrieved workers as they were insinuating.
“They were not employees, but casual workers because we want them (at the time) to earn money that they would take to their family,” Singbeh alleges.
He also claimed that there was no contractual agreement signed between his company and those who felt that they’re among some ‘aggrieved employees.’
“We don’t have any contract document to show that they are employees of my company, so I don’t owe them any salaries or benefits,” Singbeh said.
Singbeh said his company was no longer operating, “and so I don’t have any money to pay the daily hired workers.”
According to him, his company had only six employees, three of them are security guards, while the rest were caretakers.
Singbeh claimed that his company had paid all the six employees and that they did not owe any other employees.
But Singbeh did not show any document to that effect when reporters interviewed him on Tuesday.
However, document in the Daily’s Observer newspaper’s possession, under the title, “Application for Incentive,” confirmed the employees claim as justified by a letter reportedly Singbeh wrote on February 10, 2015 to George W. Wisner, Executive Director and acting chairman of the National Investment Commission (NIC).
In that communication, Singbeh informed the NIC that his company has 82 employees, instead of six as it was being rumored.
In that letter also, Singbeh said he had 30 unskilled workers; three sites securities; three drivers and 40 skilled workers, as well as a good number of administrative staff.
On the issues concerning the salary, Singbeh then informed the NIC that the overall salaries of the unskilled workers were US$15,750. He puts the salaries of the site’s securities and drivers as US$1,350 each, while we paid the skilled workers with US$36,000.
In their letter of protest to Vice President Taylor, a copy addressed to the lawmakers, the aggrieved employees added, “Singbeh claimed that we are not employees of the company is a diabolical lie, because his own letter to the NIC named us as employees of MHM Eko-Liberia.”
The aggrieved employees’ letter said that they have already sued Singbeh in the Debt Court at the Temple of Justice, whenever, it schedules the case for the hearing, Singbeh’s lawyer will ask for its postponement, because he was not prepared for the trial.
“Singbeh feels that he is above the law, so whenever, the court schedules the case for hearing, and we come from Margibi County to hear from the court,” the group spokesperson Francis G. Kerkulah claimed.
Kerkulah also said that they agreed with Singbeh in 2013 of which Singbeh agreed for them to work for nine hours and above; and that he was going to pay the employees for overtime work, which has failed to pay to US$82,560.
As a result of the Singbeh’s action and many others, the company decided to fold up since last year.
Among those who took part in yesterday’s protest was Mrs. Gartee Lorwoe, the widow of the late James Lorwoe, who had sued Singbeh, accusing him of owing her and her five children US$20,000, equivalent to four years unpaid rental fees for 50 acres of undeveloped forest land that contained two large deposits of rocks around the Leiyea Mountain in Seeke Town, District#4, Margibi County.