Dismissal ‘Virus’ Catches Labour

At least 40 employees at the Ministry of Labour have been blacklisted for dismissal reportedly on ground that they were employed by out gone Minister Varbah Gayflor.
The affected employees have claimed witch-hunt, describing termination of their services as a ploy by the new administration to take them out of job and bring on family members and acquaintances, but the Ministry has denied.
Walking into the offices of the Informer Monday (July) the affected employees, still claiming anonymity, said most of them were duly employed by the ministry, serving positions in the Ministry’s portfolios, but were shocked when they received letters that making reference to termination of their services.
The spokesman of the aggrieved workers said all of them given letters terminating their services were people taken to the Ministry during the administration of Madam Gayflor. He admitted that of the 40 of them who went to the Ministry as contractors, 27 of them were fully employed after outstanding services.
“We were not just automatically employed; we served well; we took civil service tests; we passed and the Ministry requested the CSA to classify us as employees, but we are shocked to be told that we have been working as contractors,” the aggrieved worker lamented.
Several documentations and communication among officials of the Ministry of Labour, the Civil Service Agency and some of the affected suggest that they were duly employed, but the Ministry has classified them as contractors whose contract expired June 30.
The Ministry of Labour Tuesday however clarified what it called “speculation” in the media that some employees have been dismissed as means of witch hunting them.
“…There is no dismissal or witch-hunting of employees at the Ministry of Labour as being reported,” a release issued by bthe Ministry’s PRO Kortu Nyandibo noted.
The Ministry said “those claiming to be employees were contractors who signed definite contracts with the Ministry which expired at the end of the budget period June 30, 2012.”
During the time of the signing of these contracts, the Ministry claimed, the employees agreed and accepted terms and conditions of the contracts including the duration.
The release said the contractors were informed one month prior to the expiration of the contracts an action which cannot be considered witch-hunt.
The Ministry, in many of its letters told the affected employees/contractors that they could no longer be maintained because of budgetary shortfall. However, the positions of many of those who are being dismissed have been advertised on the Ministry’s bulletin, with scores of people sending in applications, while others are trouping in to feedbacks.
“This is why we say it’s a complete witch hunt because they say we were employed by the former minister,” pointed out one of the affected employees. “Do you see the contradiction in there? How can they say budgetary squeeze, then, they go about recruiting people for the same position they have no money to maintain? How can that be? Its witch-hunt!”
Among others, the Ministry is advertising and receiving applications for position including Inspector General, Director for Procurement, Comptroller and 10 Labour Inspectors.
Deputy Minister for Administration Mr. J. Cole Bangalu has last week dismissed the claim as “false and misleading.”
Two separate communications under the signature of Deputy Minister Cole citing budgetary constraint for the dismissal action have caused widespread panic about employees’ dismissal and disenchantment at the Ministry of Labor, the New Democrat also reported last week.
“In our effort to enhance productivity and efficiency within Anti Human-Trafficking Secretariat of the Ministry of Labor, and by Directive of the Acting Minister of Labour, Hon. Neto Zarzar Lighe, you are hereby transferred and reassigned as Research Officer with the Anti-Human Trafficking Secretariat, pending the expiration of your contract. This transfer and re-assignment takes immediate effect and without change in your current monthly Allowance,” a letter written to one of the Labour Ministry’s employees by Director of Personnel Augustine T. Bundor and approved Deputy Minister J. Cole Bangalu, dated May 17th, 2013, read.
In another communication which seems to have contradicted the initial letter, Mr. Cole Bangalu, quotes the Minister as informing some employees that their contracts with the MOL would be terminated as of June 17, 2013, something aggrieved MOL employees described as complete ‘witch-hunt’.
“The Deputy Minister of Labour for Administration, Hon. J. Cole Bangalu has directed that you be formally informed that the employment contract you entered into on October 17, 2012 expires on June 17, 2013. Regrettably, because of the unavailability of required budgetary appropriation to maintain you within the employ of the Ministry of Labour, and based upon the fact that the Personnel Listing of the Ministry for the period 2012/2013 has never been approved to have you accommodated on payroll, the Administration of the Ministry of Labour is constrained to inform you that your employment contract will be terminated effective as of June 17, 2013,” another letter written and issued the Labour employees on May 17,2013 quotes Deputy Minister Cole Bangalu as ordering.
Despite the MOL’s justification of budgetary constraints, concerned employees at the Ministry of Labour have termed the latest action as an interesting contraction and solo witch-hunt against them.
Bangalu however claimed that the affected employees were contractors taken to the ministry by former Minister Varbah Gayflor.
Referring to them as contractors, Mr. Cole Bangalu said their contracts with us supposed to be terminated on June 30, 2030 as stipulated in their contract sheets.
He said his minister in not interested in dismissing employees without genuine cause but said those affected have the option to reapply for the jobs.
In an angry but firmed tone, one of the affected employees who spoke to New Democrat on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal said: “This is a complete witch-hunt because you cannot talk about re-assignment and at the same time you’re issuing contract termination letters.”
“The same positions that were re-assigned to us have also been put on the bulletin for vacancy. If you go on the MOL’s bulletin, you will see our various positions being advertised to the public. Under the labor law, once an employee serves his or her three months’ probation period, automatically he or she becomes an employee proper, and she or he is entitled to all benefits and immunities of said Ministry,” another aggrieved employee who begged not be named argued. Writes D Kaihenneh Sengbeh, dakasen1978@yahoo.com, +231886586531

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Author: D K Sengbeh

Danicius Kaihenneh Sengbeh (author of Sengbeh's Weblog) is a respected and renowned Liberian journalist, poet and writer with with journalism experience since 2001, of working both as a mainstream journalist and a communication/media consultant in Liberia. He is Secretary General of the Press Union of Liberia (elected Dec 2013). He was Assistant Secretary General of the Union Dec 2011 to Dec 2013. He is also Editor-In-Chief of The Informer Newspaper—one of Liberia’s credible dailies. Before joining the Informer, Danicius had served as reporter, chief reporter, sub-editor and News Editor at The Independent Newspaper between 2002 and 2006. Before then, he was reporter at the defunct Patriot Newspaper and Kiss FM 2001-2002. Danicius is a UN Media Fellow and Liberia’s first UN Medal Award-winning journalist for his contribution to journalism and for being the second Liberian journalist in 15 years to qualify for and successfully attended the United Nations’ Reham Al-Farra Memorial Journalist Fellowship Program in New York and Geneva, Switzerland in 2012. He earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Sociology from the University of Liberia and a Diploma in Journalism from the International School of Journalism. He holds several awards and recognitions both in and outside of journalism, and carries dozens of certificates in journalism and communication from studies in Ghana, China, United States and Switzerland, among others. He volunteers as Chair of the Information and Communication Committee of his local Bardnersville community. He can be quickly reached via (+231) 886586531/777586531/777464018/ dakasen1978@yahoo.com

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