Liberia: BWI Instructors Strike over ‘Harmonized’ Salaries

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KAKATA, Margibi County – Some teachers of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County have laid down their chalk over unpaid salaries, saying unless they are paid increments in their salaries.

The latest go-slow action comes on the  day students were expected to begin writing their first semester mid-term examinations.

The aggrieved teachers in a one-page communication dated January 19, 2022, addressed to the president of the Workers Union of the school,  said their action was triggered by the Government of Liberia reported failure to respond to their demands for salary increment after the government salary harmonization exercise about three years ago.

“Just about this time last year on January 25, 2021, the workers of BWI through the union president wrote the Minister of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) Samuel D. Tweh, Jr. and copied the Board of Governors and the principal of BWI concerning request for increment in salary for all given reasons that prompted such request”, the aggrieved BWI’s teachers added,” a teacher said.

The aggrieved teachers disclosed despite the school being one of Liberia’s best TVET institutions, teachers’ monthly salaries are far below $300, noting that such amount is the stipulated amount for BSC and Master’s degree holders.

The teachers said they had earlier  notified the Finance Minister in their previous communication about the low salary being earned by them (teachers) despite their commitment on a daily basic as compared to teachers of other government  institutions below the standard of the institution.

They revealed that following their demand for salary increment, the school’s chief executive officer and principal, Atty. Harris Fomba Tarnue, said the former president of the Booker Washington Institute Workers Union, Foday K. Rogers and other concerned representatives on several occasions pursued the school’s payroll for possible increment in salary, but that is yet to be actualized.

“The fact that our salaries keep declining on a monthly basic instead of increasing indicate the government unwillingness or reluctance to address our plight and if nothing is done about it until the passage of the 2022 fiscal budgets, the effort of the employees to seek increment in their salaries will become an issue. In this regard, we the workers are very displeased and write to inform you about our action to disengage from all working activities until the government can address our salaries situation.”

The aggrieved teachers said that their latest go-slow action is necessary because BWI is longer an autonomous institution, but under the government supervision which has now necessitated their direct engagement with the Government of Liberia.

They believed that their action to lay down chalks would  draw the attention of the government in harmonizing their salaries to commensurate with their qualifications and the length of time in service on a daily basic according to the BWI’s grade level especially as a technical vocational institution.

Meanwhile, several teachers from the trade section of the Booker Washington Institute have confided in FPA of plan of joining their colleagues in the indefinite so-slow action at the school sometime this week, similarly demanding increments in salaries.

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