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EDITORIAL: ‘Harmonization’ Will Harm Liberia and Your Government, Mr. President

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ON WEDNESDAY, October 23, six Public Sector Workers’ unions under the umbrella “The Consortium of Public Sector Workers’ Organizations of Liberia,” issued a two-week ultimatum to President George Manneh Weah’s Government.

THE CONSORTIUM OF Public Sector Workers’ Organizations listed at least seven items, which they say if those things are not given considerable attention by their government, they will embark on a nation-wide go-show action. 

AMONG THEIR QUALMS, they want all salary arears for Public Sector Workers be paid on or before October 31, 2019; they also want an immediate halt on all unapproved and unauthorized percentage deductions on the salaries of Public Sector Workers by the MFDP; they also want their payrolls be brought back to the Civil Servant Agency (CSA), which is clothed with the Statutory responsibility to appropriate salaries based on CSA grading system. 

“ALL INSURANCE PREMIUMS deducted from Public Sector Workers be remitted to the respective insurance companies; the NTAL credit union cooperative membership dues, shares and loans be regularly deducted and remitted to the NTAL as enshrined in the legal document submitted to CSA and MFDP; the NTAL membership dues of 2% per member as enshrined in the resolution from the Delegates Convention be fully implemented and remitted to the Organization of its smooth operations; and the Government of Liberia immediately employ all vetted Supplementary/Voluntary teachers.”

EVEN THOUGH, these consortiums, including the National Teachers Association of Liberia, National Health Workers Union of Liberia, MCSS Teachers’ Association, Supplementary Teachers’ Association of Liberia, Civil Servants Union of Liberia and Liberia Labor Congress, were giving this ultimatum, they, however, stated that their resolution was intended to engage the Government of Liberia to find a peaceful solution in addressing the plight of Public Sector Workers to preserve peace and sustain democracy in Liberia.

KEY IN THEIR RESOLUTION, they highlighted that the government’s salary HARMONIZATION is inherently flawed, provocative and unrealistic and has brought about discrepancies, public outcry and unjustifiable reductions in the salaries of Public Sector Workers.

PAYROLL HARMONIZATION can be a fundamental strength to business dexterity and can also be an exciting time for businesses; BUT managing the human resource challenges that arise with it can become central to the organization’s success or failure like it is now happening in Liberia.

MANY ORGANIZATIONS find themselves in a situation where a lack of standardized and integrated human resource and payroll have become a business critical problem affecting their daily operations. 

THIS HAS BEEN TRUE for the Liberian Government as it has had to deal with this problem of lack of a standardized salary system and previous regimes have done little to adequately fix and standardize it. 

MR. PRESIDENT, the economy is badly hurting. As the National Teachers Association of Liberia, National Health Workers Union of Liberia, MCSS Teachers’ Association, Supplementary Teachers’ Association of Liberia, Civil Servants Union of Liberia and Liberia Labor Congress indicated in their resolution that your government’s ‘harmonization policy is inherently flawed,’ please give heed to their demands so that they don’t go on go-slow.

THIS SITUATION dogged former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s regime for the straight 12 years she stayed in power. While she tried to fix it, yet the gap widened more in the pay structures under her watch. During the earlier stages of her regime, she introduced what her administration termed as “Right size and Downsize.” Through this Madam Sirleaf’s policy, many civil servants were “downsized” and or “right sized” from their jobs. However, they were paid off and most of them who were still “young” went off to get other jobs in other sectors. Nevertheless, the problem wasn’t fixed for good.  

UNDER PRESIDENT George Manneh Weah, his administration is somewhat attempting to fix the problem by even more creating more trouble for itself and succeeding regimes. 

HOWEVER, TRYING to “harmonize” this lack of standardized payment system in government has to be done genuinely void of all political influences that usually target one or some groups of people while others are left to unjustifiably benefit from the power of the day.     

WHAT WAS even More troubling about this policy of harmonization or salary cut/reduction that the Weah-led regime introduced, is that while the Legislature was debating on such very important ‘life and death’ situation, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) under the leadership of Mr. Samuel D. Tweah had gone ahead and started implementing this Mephistophelian policy that only seeks to heap more miseries on civil servants, who already make very little.

MR. PRESIDENT, this harmonization policy doesn’t seem to be working positively for your government. In fact, it is hurting your people. 

THIS WAS CLEARLY seen on Monday, September 23, 2019, when one very important sector in the nation’s survival when on strike because their meager salaries have disproportionately been slashed in the name of salary harmonization.

THE HEALTH WORKERS’ strike, which was announced for weeks, seriously affected ordinary Liberians, including pregnant mothers and senior citizens who had gone to seek medical treatments at various health facilities across the country but couldn’t get the medical personnel’s attention.

MR. PRESIDENT, the economy is badly hurting. As the National Teachers Association of Liberia, National Health Workers Union of Liberia, MCSS Teachers’ Association, Supplementary Teachers’ Association of Liberia, Civil Servants Union of Liberia and Liberia Labor Congress indicated in their resolution that your government’s ‘harmonization policy is inherently flawed,’ please give heed to their demands so that they don’t go on go-slow. 

TAKING A CUE from the health workers’ strike action, Mr. President, you will know that the harmonization is only going to hurt your people more than help them and this will result in sparking Sir. Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

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