Businessman’s Domestic Workers Complain of Labor Violations

KAKATA, Margibi – A businessman in Kakata has been accused by three women of forcing them to work in unfair working conditions.

Rocky Armah runs a general merchandise store in Kakata, Rocky Business Center, and his employees have been publicly criticizing him for a series of violations, including paying low wages, refusing to give them breaks on Sundays and holidays, and requiring them to work beyond the stipulated eight hours.

The women say they do not work at his store, but instead, within his home.

Speaking with reporters recently, the aggrieved workers said they were fed up with their boss’ bad labor practices and had sought the intervention of the county labor commissioner.

They accused him of deducting L$500 (US$3.82) a day for excused and unexcused absences, although he pays them less than that amount on a daily basis.

Martha Winnie, a 21-year-old mother of two children who worked as a cook for Armah for five years, said she was tired of working under such unfavorable conditions.

“He is not paying us five hundred dollars a day, but when we are absent due to sickness or other family issues he deducts five hundred Liberian dollars from us even if we ask for excuse,” she said.

Asatu John, an elderly woman who is a single mother of eight children, said she works as a laundry service woman for Armah. She said she works 12-hour days and is not given any bonus for working overtime and on Sundays and holidays.

“Even on Sundays, if we ask for excuse to go home before 7:00 p.m., he will not allow us,” she said. “How can we be working like slaves?”

When contacted, Armah said he did not know the women and even if they have problem with him, they should seek legal recourse as he was not answerable to any journalist.

The workers claimed that Armah pays them between L$3,000 (US$22.90) and L$7,000 (US$53.43) without medical benefits or paid annual and maternal leave. The disenchanted workers said they no longer want to work with the businessman.

Margibi’s labor commissioner, Albert Jallah, confirmed to The Bush Chicken that he had received an official complaint from the aggrieved women and said an investigation has been launched into the allegations of labor malpractice.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the range of pay for the aggrieved employees. Featured photo by Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel Degleh

Emmanuel has over a decade of experience working as a community radio broadcaster. He is the Margibi correspondent for the Liberia Broadcasting System and the Manager for Classic FM 93.9 MHz, one of Liberia’s leading community radio stations. Emmanuel is also a member of the Press Union of Liberia and a 2016 Internews Health Journalism Fellow.

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