The ongoing saga between the international education for-profit firm, Bridge International Academies Liberia, and 17 of its employees who were allegedly illegally dismissed, has taken an interesting detour. Following the House of Representatives session on September 17, 2020, where decisions were reached for Bridge to immediately reinstate those employees that were laid off, the Ministry of Labor has reportedly turned down the Plenary decision of reinstatement, even though the Ministry acknowledged that Bridge erred in firing the 17 employees.
According to information available to this medium, the Ministry of Labor, instead of immediately implementing the mandate of the National Legislature and reporting back within a week as per instructions, has opted to call for an investigation between the aggrieved workers and Bridge authorities that is expected to last for a month or so.
A staff of the Labor Ministry who spoke with The Analyst on condition of anonymity because the matter is accordingly under investigation, stated that as far as the Ministry of Labor is concerned, the 17 employees are still under the employment of Bridge Liberia.
“We expect the investigation to last for not more than a month, but the affected staff, as far as we are concerned, are still employed with Bridge. After the investigation, they will still be paid for the duration of the investigation,” the Labor source indicated.
Already, Bridge Liberia has allegedly blocked the 17 staffers access to all Bridge portals, while preventing their entry into the premises.
“We see this as a gross miscarriage of justice,” one of the aggrieved Bridge workers stated, cautioning sternly that the aggrieved workers are planning the next course of action. Queried as to what would be their action, the dismissed staff said nothing is off the table for now.
It can be recalled, the House of Representatives had also mandated the Ministry of Labor to work along with the House’s Committee on Education and Public Administration to establish a workable way out and report to Plenary in one week, and that the investigation to involve the participation of the Ministry of Education should include the US5,000,000 that Bridge International Academy/Liberia raised on behalf of Liberia for its system operation in Liberia which was disclosed during the appearance of the Bridge International Academy/Liberia this year as to how much of the money was spent to benefit Liberian children.
The Ministry of Education was as well mandated to take the appropriate action to address the issue of volunteer teachers that have come out as a consequence of the lay off or retiring of employees; and that the Ministry should work out details in relation to qualification of expatriates and employees of the Bridge International Academy/Liberia and other important issues raised during the hearing.