Liberia: COVID-19 Challenges Forcing Companies to Redundant Workers -Min. Kollie

Labor Minister Moses Kollie

Monrovia – Labor Minister Moses Kollie said the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in Liberia has posed serious challenges to the labor sector and has forced some companies to skill down their workforce.

By Willie N. Tokpah/0777039231 ([email protected])

Speaking in an online press conference Monday, May 18, Minister Kollie noted that there had been no closure of any major company since the outbreak, but the redundant of some employees is due to difficulties the pandemic has created for income generation, to pay all employees working at these entities.

“The labor sector is being affected because, it represents the human factor in producing goods and services of the economy. Many employers are complaining to sustain Pre-COVID-19 wages, while employees complained about threats,” Minister Kollie said.

These complaints, according to him, resulted from the lack of ‘a provision’ in the current Decent Work Act on temporary reduction that could help address some of the prevailing issues raised by workers at these entities.

However, according to him a ‘National Tripartite Council Policy’ was drafted for employers and employees by stakeholders in the labor sector, which result to an amendment to the COVID-19 guide to help address the situation.

Minister Kollie said the policy among other things, calls for “the suspension of any new discussion for collective bargaining,” and that all other bargaining before the end of March remains enforced.

The Labor Minister maintained that “all employers pay nonessential employees 50 percent salaries and benefit beginning May 1, 2020.”

Minister Kollie said this mandate is not extended to government workers, but people in the private sector.

“Paying nonessential workers 50 percent salaries and benefits does not cover state owned enterprises workers and employees, because government is paying all of its workers all salaries and benefit,” he averred.

Since the drafting of this policy, according to him, companies and some businesses continue to work in line said guideline, while others remain committed to paying all of their employees.

He continued: “Firestone has maintained 72 percent of its workforce at the tapping areas and estate department with 20 percent being declared nonessential. These include rubber purchase, administration and education department. GVL Liberia has redundant 10 percent of its workforce and maintained 90 percent in line with the Decent Work Act of Liberia. BEA Mountain has maintained 90 percent of its workforce and 10 percent redundant, Monrovia Braveries has maintained 70 percent of its worker and 30 percent redundant.”

In the same way, he furthered that seven workers at the Farmington Hotel were redundant, which he attributed to challenges faced as a result of the effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the airport sector in Liberia. The hotel is situated right opposite the Roberts International Airport in Margibi County.

On the other hand, he said ArcelorMittal, Liberia Agriculture Company and MNG, among others are companies that continued to maintain all of their staffs, though issues relating to redundant of former workers at ArcelorMittal remain unresolved. At the same time, Minister Kollie noted that as per the policy, those redundant will be immediately reemployed as full time workers at their various places of work after the end of the COVID-19 Pandemic in Liberia.