Liberia: Civil Servants Union Embarks Stay-Home Action Across the 15 Counties Beginning Dec. 16

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Monrovia – All the cries of pleas from the Minister of Education and other government officials fell on deaf ears as the Consortium of Civil Servants of Liberia announced that they are set to go on a nation-wide stay-home action across the 15 counties beginning Monday, December 16. The Consortium comprises of six public sector groupings including, National Teachers Association of Liberia, National Health Workers Union of Liberia, Monrovia Consolidated Schools System Teachers’ Association, Supplementary Teachers’ Association of Liberia, Civil Servants Union of Liberia and the Liberia Labor Congress. 

The leadership of the Consortium on Thursday, December 12, after a meeting, which was attended by the Minister of Education along with some of his senior officials and representations from other ministries, including Finance and Development Planning, Justice and Information, announced that they were not going to reverse on their decision of calling off their stay-home action. Before they had read their statement to the waiting press, the Education Minister, Prof. Dr. Ansu Sonii, had literally pleaded with them to not go ahead with their decision and to forget about reading their statement. 

At one point when it seems he was getting nowhere with the “rhetoric”, as one of the attendees described it to this newspaper, he threw his hands in the air, frustratingly and accused the Consortium’s leadership of trying to put the country in flames.

According to the Minister it would only take one student to steer his friends up to get into the streets as he reminisced the October 15, 2019 Monrovia Consolidated School System’s students’ peaceful protest, which turned violent resulting in most of the kids being hospitalized after police’s heavy handedness. 

The Education Minister even called the Finance Minister, Samuel Tweah, on the phone and had him on loudspeaker for him (Tweah) to assure the public workers of their salaries being sure. The Finance Minister’s didn’t sound any pleasant in the ears of those civil servants, who murmured. One of men told FrontPageAfrica that the Finance Minister is full of scammed talks so he had no pleasure in the assurances that he (Tweah) had given.

On the phone, he had disclosed that the government was working assiduously with one of the local banks. He even told them that the Central Bank of Liberia was in the move of converting the Liberian dollar portions of their salaries into US Dollars since there is Liberian Dollar shortage on the market.

He, however, failed to tell them when they would begin getting their salaries even when they pressed with the question.    

The Consortium’s Statement

“Sadly, all efforts to have the government act in line with our demands have culminated into fiasco, much to our dissatisfaction as we cannot continue to stomach and or entertain mere and fruitless promises”

-The consortium of Civil Servants of Liberia press statement

It got to a point where the representations of the various aggrieved parties didn’t think they could believe what their government officials were telling them so they decided to go ahead with their announcement to their constituencies. The statement was by Moibah Johnson, President of the Civil Servant Union of Liberia

“The consortium of Civil Servants of Liberia has met, discussed and uncompromisingly resolved that our decision to have a nationwide stay-home action across the fifteen counties of Liberia beginning Monday, December 16, 2019 remains in full force and unchanged. This action comes as a result of the GoL’s failure through the Ministries of Finance and Development Planning, Education and Labor to have met our demand. We want to state for the record that the consortium has reasonably given ample time to the Government of Liberia to constructively discuss and amicably resolve issues relative to our salaries and other concerns captured in our memorandum entered into between us and the GoL. 

“Sadly, all efforts to have the government act in line with our demands have culminated into fiasco, much to our dissatisfaction as we cannot continue to stomach and or entertain mere and fruitless promises. 

“We want to make it abundantly clearer than crystal that all civil servants should and must remain home until they hear from us. Let us also inform the Government of Liberia and her operatives that any attempt to threaten or seen to be threatening any civil servant of dismissal or punitive administrative actions associated with the stay home action will not be tolerated as we will not rest in ensuring that our members interest remain fully and completely protected.

“We categorically demand and uncompromisingly maintain that all arrears to all civil servants must be fully settled as stipulated in our MoU with the GoL. The unacceptable situation of receiving text messages of being paid when the money cannot be accessed is totally objectionable and intolerable and should not be the new normal in this case of the payment demanded herein.” 

Background

On Wednesday, October 30, 2019, the Consortium, at a press conference announced that they had reached a memorandum of understanding with the government to find a peaceful solution in addressing the plight of public sector workers.

In the agreement reached between the government and the consortium, read by Mr. Johnson, the government acknowledged the resolution and embraced the steps taken by the Consortium to dialogue and find amicable solution to the plight of public sector workers.

In consideration of the government’s commitment to finding solution, several meetings were held between the parties as a way of addressing concerns raise by the consortium.

As a result of the agreement, the government had committed to work along with the consortium to implement proactive adjustments to civil servants salary while maintaining the government’s US$ 297 million wage bill to ensure stability in the pay of civil servants salary before the end of November.

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