Bad Labor Practice not Unique to Farmington Hotel Only, but the Entire Country

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Members of the House of Representatives in an emotional mood on Tuesday, reached a consensus to invite the management of the Farmington Hotel to appear before that body today.

The management has been summoned to answer to the question as to why it should not be held in contempt after reportedly preventing a member of the House from carrying out an investigation following complaints raised by Liberian casual workers employed at that hotel.

The Farmington Hotel management, according to our Legislative Correspondent, Leroy Sonpon, III, has been accused of unfair labor practices ranging from salary disparity to the use of abusive language hurled against employees and casual workers.

The complainants further noted that the hotel’s human resource manager, Daniel Cephus, is in the habit of intimidating the workers with threats of dismissal whenever they raise concerns about the inhumane treatment allegedly carried out by the management against them.

Shoddy and unfair treatment of local employees by foreign-owned entities, including that which has been allegedly perpetrated by the Farmington Hotel Management has become widespread in the Liberian society.

Many past records bear witness to inhumane treatment of local employees of hotels and merchandise stores operated by Lebanese and Indians here.  Some of those instances can be traced to breaking of a local employee’s tooth at the Mamba Point Hotel, and intimidation of workers at the Palm Spring Hotel some years ago for speaking against inequity in salaries.

There are similar labor malpractices in oil palm plantations and in the mining sector.  There are recent reports in one particular mining company where jobs are indiscriminately given to foreigners while qualified Liberians are sidelined.

Yet there are many foreigners who are urging the Liberian Government to grant them citizenship and land ownership.

The decision by the House of Representatives to invite the management of Farmington Hotel to answer questions is necessary and welcoming.

Such a development should also encourage the Ministry of Labor to inspect workplaces vigorously—not only those belonging to foreigners, but Liberians as well.

There are entities, including farms and other businesses owned and operated by Liberians in which their compatriots in their employ are undergoing the same inhumane treatment from their bosses.

Overt discrimination (giving preferential treatment to some and treating others unfairly), leading to employing and giving girlfriends attractive salaries; inequity in salaries of employees performing the same task, intimidation of workers for exercising their rights, and delaying of employees’ salaries are just some of the suppressive situations facing workers in almost every sector in the country.

In many instances, employment is based not on competence or qualification, rather on friendship, tribalism and nepotism.

Instead of institutions and entities advertising vacancies for job seekers to compete on the basis of their qualifications and competence, vacancies are cosmetically placed in newspapers just to clear the Labor Law, as those entities may already have their chosen people for the jobs.

These activities are not only creating low productivity in workplaces across the country, but are also undermining the merit-based system and accountability in workplaces.

There is no doubt that when jobs are credibly and sincerely advertised and people compete, the right person will get the position based on merit.  This will encourage and motivate others to strive for excellence, both at school and in the workplace.

The awarding of jobs not based on merit but on personal connections discourages students from striving for excellence, and induces them to engage other means, however unwholesome they may be, to pursue employment.

Such mindset is at this very moment characterizing the ongoing political appointments, wherein individuals are appointed to high level positions without regard for their competence or qualification.

We urge the House of Representatives and the Ministry of Labor to use Farmington Hotel as a case study to delve more deeply into the labor malpractices affecting the country, in order to find workable solutions through the law.

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