Two employees of the Oporto Restaurant in Sinkor have commended the Minister of Labour, Moses Y. Kollie, for his timely intervention in their situation through a social dialogue, which led to their reinstatement by the restaurant’s Management.
According a communication addressed to the Minister of Labour, dated June 10, 2019, the Management said that Messrs. William Gayflor and Nathan Membeh, both chefs at the restaurant, were dismissed, citing Chapter 14, Section 14.3 of the Labour Law of Liberia, which underscores ‘grounds for immediate termination of employment’.
According to the communication, the decision of the said management to have the pair dismissed was precipitated by their continuous misconduct and misleading of staff.
“On June 7, 2019, they were caught inciting staff to leave work ahead of the end of normal working hours. This behavior is harmful to our business and therefore, the Management decided to terminate the services of both employees effective immediately,” the communication noted.
However, on June 21, 2019, while the Minister and some staff of the Ministry were attending the 108th Session of the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, Switzerland, the two dismissed employees also filed a formal complaint with the Ministry, against their employer.
According to a statement from the Labor Ministry, without awaiting the Ministry’s intervention into the complaint, the two dismissed workers chose to take their issue to the media and, for some days, took to a local radio station to discuss the issue in a manner that suggested that the Ministry was insensitive to the complaint of the workers.
As a result, the attention of the Ministry of Labour was drawn to the matter; thus leaving the Minister with no other alternative but to invite both the Management and dismissed workers to a conference on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at noon, at the Ministry of Labour.
Following nearly an hour of intense negotiation and social dialogue, led by Labour Minister Kollie, the Management agreed to accept the former workers back on job based upon the intervention of the Ministry, thereby withdrawing the letters of dismissal issued them.
The workers also accepted to sign their letters of warning which they had earlier refused to sign, according to them, because of lack of clarity, which also propelled their dismissal.
Both management and the two workers assured the Ministry that they would work together in peace and ensure that such a situation does not reoccur in the workplace.
“These two guys are the most important employees and highest paid staff at our restaurant and we have had no problem with them until this day. I even tried calling them on several occasions to return to work because in the restaurant business, the customers go after the best service and these guys are people who have been preparing our meals for the last two years. I reminded them that they have families that they need to care for, but they refused to return,” Zaid Abdel Khalek, General Manager of the Oporto Restaurant disclosed during the dialogue.
William Gayflor, who spoke on behalf of the two dismissed employees, admitted that they walked away on June 7, 2019 without approval from the Management and, upon their return to job, they were issued two letters of warning for the afore-cited offense, which they refused to sign, which led to their dismissal. Additionally, he admitted that they are well paid by the restaurant and as such, they are willing to resume work.
“We want to thank the Minister of Labour for the way he and his team handled our case. They were unbiased in their judgement; they played their true role as “twins-mother” during the discussions, which has encouraged us to return to work without any precondition. We accept to return to work in good faith and promise that we are going to work in line with our bosses’ instructions like we did before and will do absolutely nothing to undermine the interest of the business,” they assured.
Meanwhile, Labour Minister Moses Y. Kollie assured workers across the country that the Ministry of Labour is committed to ensuring that the rights of workers and employers are protected at all times in keeping with the Decent Work Act of Liberia.