Liberia: Aggrieved Workers of West Construction Company Demand Reimbursement of ‘Illegal’ Social Security Tax
Monrovia – Construction work for the new Redemption Hospital in Caldwell has resumed after suffering delays due to workers’ demand for salaries and benefits but they are now demanding the company to pay them money deducted as social security premiums.
Report by Edwin G. Genoway, Jr 00231886458910[email protected]
West-Kevcon Construction Company, the firm implementing the construction project, has been under pressure from angry workers who are now demanding retroactive payments.
The workers claim that although they have been daily-hires, the company had consistently deducted money from their salaries for social security even though they were never issued forms nor given social security numbers.
Emmanuel Selekpoh, one of the aggrieved workers, said he was frustrated that the company had refused to pay back their money.
“From day one we’ve been working here with this company they have always deduct US$6.90 from my pay for social security tax, US$10.93 for employer’s contribution and US$21.64 LRA tax, the total money they take from my salary is US$28.54 every month I work,” he explained.
“So where is the money that they had deducted from us? These people are wicked people that do not have the people of Liberia at heart, how can they take our money and eat it and refused to provide us our social security number,” James Kpehe another daily hire noted.
One of the workers said the media coverage of the situation pressured the company to pay their delayed salaries.
“We thank you guys from the press as well, because of your presence here also contributed to management paying us our money, we agreed to get back to work but our social security money needs to be addressed as well,” said David Mulbah.
Siaka Kamara, the spokesperson of the concern workers, welcomed the payment of the workers but frowned on the management for not addressing the issues of high taxes and social security benefit the company deducted from them for many years.
“So what happened to the money they been cutting from our pay for the past years and months, I thought they told us that they were going to settle us with all the money they owe us,” he said.
“The high tax they’ve been taking for social security need to be addressed and since they been taking our money, not a day has they given us social security form to fill or even provide us the ID Card or our social security number we need all of that corrected as well.”
The workers have also complained about the lack of transportation, underpayment of skilled and unskilled workers, high LRA tax, high Social Security tax, making payment during night hours among others.
The spokesperson of the concern workers said the over 200 hired to work on a daily basis are paid US$7.00 per day while some make US$10.
The pay slips in the possession FrontPage Africa has shown how the management has been deducting from the employees LRA income tax, Social Security (4%) tax, Employee’s contribution (6%) without providing any clarity on the deduction being made which leaves doubt in the minds of the workers.
They are concern whether the taxes being deducted from their salaries is in line with the labour laws of Liberia.
Some of the workers said they have been working as daily hires for West Construction Company for almost 10 years.
“The company told us that they will take the work from us and give it to different contractors, but before they do that let them repay every cent they owe us including the illegal social security being taken from us in the past,” he said.
The Human Resource Consultant, Pewee Flomoku explaining to this paper confirmed that the company has decided that work will be outsourced.
He said the Management of West-Kevcon has taken the necessary steps to remedy the situation by paying the workers but noted that there have been challenges in dealing with the workers particular on their work habit.
“Some of them will come to work and sign in but cannot sign out, while others come to work and escape job during lunch hours, but if the work is being given by contract to individuals, we wouldn’t be running behind daily hire people to do the work because we will hold responsible those that sign the contract and not the daily hire anymore,” he explained. However, he could not also explain or confirm if the company has given the workers social security number or form to fill in.