Liberia: Controversial Court Ruling in Nimba Sparks Mixed Reaction over SEGAL Contract with Arcelor Mittal
MONROVIA – The ruling in the case involving the Security Expert Guard Service of Liberia (SEGAL ) and its aggrieved employees has come under serious criticism with residents of Nimba County giving mixed reactions.
SEGAL is a security guard company in charge of security for Arcelor Mittal Liberia, especially in Nimba County.
It has been reported that six aggrieved employees in Nimba County ran to court in 2017 complaining the company (SEGAL) of unfair labor practices and low salaries.
Prior to the employees running to the court, this paper has gathered that the aggrieved employees’ continuous disturbances of normal working activities of ArcelorMittal prompted the management of SEGAL to re-assign them to a different company but were rejected on grounds that they could carry out similar protest action done at ArcelorMittal.
Based on the actions of the aggrieved employees, the management of the company (SEGAL) paid them off and relieved them of their posts, an insider hinted this paper.
But the employees were dissatisfied with their dismissal, they ran to court in 2017.
It is reported that the six employees who ran to court in 2017 number increased to over 300 employees in the period of over three years.
The case finally came to a close in 2022 with the ruling under the hands of the 8th Judicial Circuit Court Judge.
But the ruling of Judge Roland Dahn has sparked up controversy with some accusing the Judge of being in error in his ruling.
“The Judge passed his ruling based on tribal sentiments, he came up with a ruling and he didn’t give chance to allow the other party take an appeal and he came up with his final ruling,” Joshua Mannie of Yekepa stated.
“It’s hard to talk, why should we Nimbians be fighting other Liberians who are investing in our county all because they are not from here, we did it to ArcelorMittal and now we fighting SEGAL because the owner of the company is not from here, we need to stop this,” another resident, Marie Quaye noted.
For his part, Patrick Mensah of Ganta is of the conviction that SEGAL is not in the interest of the people of Nimba.
“The salary they giving our brothers is small, people in the cold working then u giving them US$150, US$200, among others, he thought he could win case here, he’s wasting his time,” he said.
The case which started 2017 was ruled by Judge Dahn, the Judge among other things ruled for alleged unfair labor practice and instructed SEGAL to pay the 353 aggrieved employees US$ 734, 131.80.00 and threatened to seize the properties of SEGAL as well as the arrest of authorities of SEGAL, respectively.
Based on the judge ruling Justice Jamesetta Wollokollie has placed a hold on the matter pending legal discussion on Thursday, September 23, 2022.
According to some of the officers in Yekepa, they are unhappy with the ongoing legal battle between they (some of their aggrieved colleagues ) and SEGAL’s management.
“Some of us are even confused with the manner and form in which the matter is been handled by the judge, but we cannot say it all”, said some SEGAL officers.
According to our investigation, the aggrieved officers’ claims include low salaries and transportation challenges, among others, are genuine but the lack of proper education and information on the part of the officers relative to the matter at hand led to some of the unresolved issues.
SEGAL’s management is on record for saying that under the contract, they do not have the right to singlehandedly do anything contrary to the agreement but due to lack of information, the aggrieved workers claimed that they have been underpaid and mistreated , something SEGAL’s management stated is far from the reality.
“We see more money and other itemized equipment on our payment slip but received USD150..00 monthly “, they told our reporter.
However, our investigation shows that the officers’ uniforms and other working equipment including: Personal Protective Equipment are inclusive of their benefits.
SEGAL’s management maintains that they normally follow all of the best international practices under the contract which over the period has been approved by AML.
On the order hand, SEGAL management according to our investigation stressed that there were initially six persons who staged the protest action to include : Taytassleah Duo, Cyrus Sage, Enoch S. Topoe, John Lehwoan, Z.Tongor Duo and Emmanuel K. Gbemie in violation of their standing hand book and also failed to go to work for one month and was subsequently dismissed in line with their guidelines.
Both handbook and guidelines copies are currently in our possession.
They explained that AML requested that the six employees be laid off due their unprofessional action on the job and SEGAL had no option but to implement such mandate.
However, SEGAL offered the six trained officers to take assignments in other areas of their operations but they allegedly refused and insisted that they must work at AML something that led to the unresolved issues.
Even though, the court document disclosed 353 aggrieved workers to be paid but documents in our possession shows over 600 aggrieved workers.
However, SEGAL argues and foresees foul play in the process.
According to the document, most of the workers whose names were on the paper were dismissed for theft of property, while others are ghost names including some current employees.
SEGAL’s management alleged that the six dismissed employees were those behind the protest action at the AML.
Our investigation also shows that SEGAL is yet to resign a contract with AML for about two years now.
However, SEGAL’s management according to our investigation was in the preparatory stage of renewing the contract with AML in London and to take into consideration some of the plights of the people when the strike action occurred something that coerced the management team to return to the Country to address the issues before continuing the agreement.
According to the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, SEGAL is the only Liberian company with the largest Liberian workforce operating in thirteen of Liberia’s fifteen Counties with over three thousand five hundred employees.
The company is owned and operated by a Liberian Momo Cyrus and has been rendering professional services for several years including implementing its corporate social responsibility to the population.
Until the Final decision from Justice Wollokollie, the mixed reactions regarding the situation continue as the matter appears unending.