MVTC Pays Four-Month Salary Arrears to Striking Teachers

PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – Following several days of peaceful protest by instructors of the Monrovia Vocational Training Center in demand of salary arrears, on Monday, November 27, the institute began paying four months of arrears.

Frustrated at not having been paid for several months, the aggrieved teachers laid down their chalks last Tuesday to draw the attention of the government to their plight.

In solidarity, students also joined the protest to exert pressure on authorities at the Ministry of Youth and Sports, under which the training institute operates.

Though the protests were peaceful, the students prevented staff of the administration, journalists, and others from entering the campus compound.

Protesting students rush to prevent The Bush Chicken reporter from photographing the protest. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Inside the facility, classes and offices were completely abandoned and the campus resembled a ghost town.

Henry Nyandibo, an instructor within the mechanical department and a spokesperson for the aggrieved teachers, told The Bush Chicken on Monday that the teachers had run out of patience after waiting for several months without being paid.

However, by Tuesday, Nyandibo spoke to The Bush Chicken via phone to say the ministry had started paying salaries on Monday evening. He noted that the instructors were being paid for four months “instead of five months,” as they had expected.

However, the assistant director for administration, David Payedoe, disagreed with the teachers who said they were owed five months’ worth of salaries; he said they went unpaid for only four months.

Henry Nyandibo represented the aggrieved instructors. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Nyandibo said teachers would resume regular classes following a meeting with all stakeholders. He added that “the teachers do not want a re-occurrence of the situation.”

Julius Paye, an electrical instructor, said the teachers explored all avenues of diplomacy with authorities at the ministry before proceeding with the protest.

“Strike action is the only language the government understands,” he said. “The teachers’ labor cannot be used and abuse.”

Julius Paye is an instructor within the Electrical Department. Photo: Zeze Ballah

He said 38 teachers at the center are considered ‘volunteer’ workers and earn US$150 monthly, which he said is converted into Liberian dollars before being paid to them, further decreasing its value.

“The teachers became beggars for five months due to the delay of their salaries,” he said.

Paye said the teachers’ salary arrears is just a symptom of the brewing crisis at the training institute. He urged the government to establish a committee to assess the current operations of the center.

It was a sentiment echoed by Bob Emmanuel Paye, a student and president of MVTC’s student council, who said he wants the government make the MVTC an antonymous institution like the Booker Washington Institution in Margibi.

While students would rather be acquiring knowledge than protesting, Paye said the student body recognized that it is “pathetic” to have heads of households working and not taking anything back home at the end of the month.

Bob Emmanuel Paye, student council president, Monrovia Vocational Training Center. Photo: Zeze Ballah

Paye said the issue of paying instructors’ salaries on time is an age-old problem at the institution.

The vocational training center was established in 1978 and trains electricians, heavy duty mechanics, welders, carpenters, and plumbers, among other disciplines.

Featured photo by Zeze Ballah

Zeze Ballah

Zeze made his journalism debut as a high school reporter at the LAMCO Area School System. In 2016 and 2017, the Press Union of Liberia awarded Zeze with the Photojournalist of the Year award. Zeze was also the union's 2017 Health Reporter of the Year. He is a Health Journalism Fellow with Internews.

The Bush Chicken is a young operation and we need your support to keep bringing you great content. Please support us.

Monthly   Yearly   One time

Gold Level Supporter—$250/year
Silver Level Supporter—$100/year
Bronze Level Supporter—$50/year
Or pick your own amount: $/year
Gold Level Supporter—$250
Silver Level Supporter—$100
Bronze Level Supporter—$50
Or pick your own amount: $
Contributions to The Bush Chicken are not tax deductible.

Related posts