By: King Brown (Grand Bassa County Correspondent)
Grand Bassa County- About 250 aggrieved workers of the International Consultant logging Company (ICC), have threatened to go on hunger strike if they do not get their five months salary owned them by the management.
According to Mr. Emmanuel Somah, head of the aggrieved workers, there will be no shipment of log from the ICC facilities at Big Joe Town outside Buchanan and a boycott will contention until their arrears can be paid in full.
The decision of the aggrieved workers comes in the wake of the management’s plan to pay two months of their five months’ arrears, and the balance three months to be paid later, something the workers rejected and demanded that all of their five months’ salary should be paid in full.
According to them, inorder to calm the prevailing situation, government should intervene quickly and make sure that they get their money or else they will embarrass the company’s operation by blocking the main entrance until their demands are forcibly addressed.
Mr. Somah said. “We came here on Monday to get our money and management told us to go home and come back on Tuesday because they were not prepared to pay our five months arrears.
Unfortunately, when we came on Tuesday, out of our five months arrears, management begged us to take two months and showed us a later date for the balance to be pay but we are saying no to that, we want all of our money because we have no trust in the company, if not, the company will not operate in peace”.
He said their five months arrears is equivalent to USD$1,000 up to USD$1, 800.
“We have our wife and children including families and no food is in our various homes, we worked for this company and every month no pay only excused, some of us our women and children has abandoned us only because we cannot provide their daily needs.
This company is really pushing us to cause problem and we will not go home but rather sleep in the concession yard of the company until we can get our money” Mr. Somah mentioned.
They allegedly accused the government of Liberia including Mr. Johnson Quaqua, Grand Bassa County labor commissioner of not speaking on their behalf but rather speaking in the common interest of the company only because of the taxes that they are paying to the government.
Mr. Somah added. “The President told us in his inauguration speech that we were not going to be spectators to our own county’s economy, but now we are more than even a spectator. We are psuffering in our own country like foreigners.
To cut a log it is not an easy task. When we are suffering in the bush government cannot send PSU there but time for our money today government has dispatched huge team of officers from the Police responding Unit (PSU) to come and calm down the situation and to also protect the company and its management. Is so sad for our democracy”
Also speaking Mr. Johnson Quaqua, Grand Bassa County labor commissioner condemns the action of the company to be exporting the resources of the county and cannot pay its workers their just pay.
But, despite his disappointment, Mr. Quaqua thanked the aggrieved workers for being peaceful in the process, as he assured them to mount continuous pressure on the management of the logging company until their money can be paid in full.
Speaking further, Mr. Quaqua said that the management of the company’s told him that the delay of the worker’s salary has been the drop of prices in log on the world market and the effect of the global pandemic covid-19.
“Because of my intervention, the workers have kept so quiet and I am saying it is not a good practice this is why we are ensuring that whosoever owed workers their salary should make sure these people get their money because it is what they work for”.