PLEEBO, Maryland – Former workers of the Maryland Oil Palm Plantation and Cavalla Rubber Corporation are staging a joint protest to demand benefits allegedly owed them by their former employers. The protesters are redundant employees of the two companies which are operated by SIFCA Group of Companies, a French corporation based in Cote D’Ivoire.
As early as 4:00 a.m. on Monday, the over 160 redundant workers took to the streets claiming over US$900,000 jointly owe them for services they provided while working for the two companies. They also accused the companies of illegally dismissing them.
The spokesman for the protesting former employees, Domingo Chea told the Bush Chicken that on the morning of February 28, in 2017, CRC’s Human Resource Manager called several employees and asked them to sign for their dismissal letters, without providing any cause of justification. Chea said the workers were not given any prior notice to the company’s action.
In a position statement read by Chea, the protesting former workers also accused the past government of not doing anything to address the issue of their illegal dismissals. He said the management also refused to reinstate workers it accused of theft after it was instructed to do so by the Gedetarbo magisterial court after the court issued a certificate declaring the workers innocent of the crime. According to him, the court’s order was based on the failure of the company’s management to make representation in court for hearing of its own case.
The protesters also claimed that CRC fired 64 employees of the Plant Protection Department in 2017 but refused to pay them a 36-month salary, as stipulated by the 2015 Decent Work Act.
Three categories of workers who have worked for more than eight years were put down in 2017 and management paid severance to one of the categories comprising of 36 workers leaving two of the categories out.
At the said time, the position statement states that Agro workers at MOPP headed by Cletus Mosiah and Quaye Brown were redundant without after serving the company for more than four years, among others.
According to the spokesman of the former workers, they have now lost confidence in their local authorities to address their plight.
“We are no longer hoping on our local officials because they have failed us on several occasions,” he said.
“We will continue this strike action until the office of the Labor minister or President George Weah can probe into the situation to find an everlasting end.”
Maryland Labor Commissioner, Julley Howe had ruled in the matter in favor of the redundant workers, dismissing the companies’ argument that they were contractors and their claims are unjustifiable.
According to Commissioner Howe’s ruling, documentary evidence produced in trial by the former workers, which included pay slips that carry employee and not contractor thus, making the former workers claim genuine and justifiable.
When contacted, CRC’s manager for community and public relations, Martin Nyenkan said he could not comment on the matter.
Meanwhile, Maryland Senator and Chairman of the county Legislative Caucus, Ble-bo Brown has told the aggrieved former workers of the two companies on a local radio that the caucus is currently reviewing the matter and would find a lasting remedy.
Featured photo by George Momo