Employees of an energy company known as “UTE Elecnor” have expressed disapproval over deductions in their salaries and said they are yet to properly understand why the deduction. UTE is running electricity infrastructure from the Ivory Coast through Liberia and to Sierra Leone, and it has run lines as far as Buchanan, Grand Bassa County.
One of the employees, Taranus P. Chea who happens to be the spokesperson for the aggrieved workers, alleged that he has worked for over two years and experienced several deductions from his salary—social security, income tax and so on being some, but surprisingly he, along with many of the workers, could not find their names in the social security records.
They hired many young Liberians as either contractors of employees since they arrived in Liberia over two yeas ago.
The Liberians were used to plant giant side towers from the Ivorian border through Nimba, Bassa and still ongoing toward Sierra Leone.
The employees, all of them Liberian, are about 143 in number who went on the rampage on last week at the compound of the company, near the Methodist Hospital, blocking movement of the company equipments and causing stir.
The spokesperson of the aggrieve workers, Taranus P. Chea claimed that the company abruptly downsized them without any prior notice as enshrine in their signed contract agreement.
According Chea, in the contract sheet, the employee should be notified 30 days before he/she contract can be terminated, instead they were downsized without as notice as mentioned in count 14 and 15 of the contract sheet.
“There regular deductions of social security tax among others from my salary, with no social security identification card and to finally discover that the tax did not go to social security and our names are not on social security record,” he said.
Josiah Topoe, a tower technician in tears buttressed the Chea statement and said they signed contracts after every three months with their last contract signed in February 2020. However, to their surprise, they were given pay slips when they returned from work on April 17, 2020, telling them their contracts were over.
“I was making US$300 and it some time was increased, depending on over-time, but today they only give me US$ 150, with no benefits,” he cried.
After weeks of tension, on Wednesday, May 6, 2020 the company was carrying on final payment of salary to the 93 remaining downsized employees under the protection of heavily armed ERU officers.
Nearly all the affected employees interview by this paper explained the same condition, citing the reduction in their salary, where they given half of their salary, with no benefit.
“We, who were recruited from Ganta and its vicinity did not receive anything at all,” said One Dolo.
Effort to get the side of the company did not materialize, as the company Human Resource Manager in charge of the payment, one Paul Kimba or his associate, were not willing to speak to the press.
When contacted, while conducting the salary payment, they asked for two hours to address the matters, but up to press time they have yet to speak.
However, some ordinary citizens have expressed dismay over how Liberians are not treated well in their homeland, when it comes to labor matters.
“This company brought in lot of foreigners and they are well paid and taken care of, but don’t care so much for those recruited from here by giving them the same care,” said one Jestina Walker, a petty trader.
“How can someone work for you for over 10 months and still be considered as contractor,” said a bystander.
Meanwhile, the Labor Commissioner of Nimba, Gborwor Takpor Gblinwon said in regard to labor law, one is paid according to the period of one worked for, “but in a case like this, the company is supposed to pay them one month salary, because their contract was cancelled abruptly.”
He said whatsoever they are receiving, the government will ensure the company pays back balance.
The aggrieved workers are calling on the national government to press on the company to properly pay their salary in line with labor law.