By: Anthony Q. Jiffan, Jr.
. The workers of West Kevcon Construction Company, constructing the New Redemption Hospital and Smartz Pro-LIPA yesterday, March 5, staged a peaceful protest asking management to address their concerns by giving them a favorable working environment so that they are being taken care of properly.
The workers in the Township of Caldwell have decried bad labor practices and threatened to put halt operations at the site until their demands are met.
The spokesperson of the aggrieved workers, Mr. Shaka Kamara, told The Analyst that they have written the management of the company on numerous occasions mentioning some of the unbearable conditions confronting them, but there has been no redress up to the time of protest.
The group in their communication to the management of West Kevcon Construction listed some issues which include untimely payment of their wages, underpayment of skill workers as low as $7.00US, lack of transportation, payment of their wages after normal working hours which they said exposed them to attacks by hoodlum, and deduction of social security taxes from daily hired workers without identification card.
The workers also enumerated the termination of workers from job without notification, the lack of medical facility for workers on site, continuous intimidation of workers, long term service of workers without signing employment of contract, failure by management to pay workers resettlement benefits, and the failure by management to pay to workers over time, amongst others.
The workers’ spokesperson Shaka Kamara said the group has called on the management of West Kevcon Construction represented by Mr. Abraham Bah to quickly address their concerns as they have no intention to stop work at the site if said issues are amicably resolved.
Mr. Kamara said the workers have told management to make transportation available for workers, pay workers on time because they have experienced several attacks by criminals which usually happened as a result of the late payment at job site; something he said placed them at risk of criminals who at some instances take away their money while departing from playground during late hours.
“There was an issue between management and workers, and we engaged them so that they could address our plights. But they have refused to do so thereby leading to this protest,” he said, saying that we will make sure that they address our concerns or else we will stay on this protest for the next 21 days.
According to the workers’ spokesman, “Some of us have been working with this company for about 10 years, indicating that following their engagement with the management of the company, they were told to go home and return the next day for their pay of one month which he said covers 24 days of work; but the management failed to fulfill their 24-day payment promised, thereby paying them for 16 days.
Also speaking to this paper was Boima Gray, one of the carpenters working as daily hire at The New Redemption Site. He said the company has reduced their pay from US$25 to US$7 while others are experiencing reduction from US$12 to US$7, a decision by the West Kevcon Construction Company he termed as wicked on the part of management.
The aggrieved workers are calling on the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Labor to quickly intervene into their situation or they will continue to protest until Mr. Abraham Bah, General Manager of West Kevcon Construction Company, addresses issues affecting them in line with best labor practice.
The Analyst in an effort to contact the management of West Kevcon Construction spoke with its General Manager, Mr. Abraham Bah, who referred our reporter to Mr. Pewee Flomoku, who he said, is the company’s Human Resource Manager, but efforts made to contact Mr. Flomoku yielded no result.