Disunited Union in Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leone Motor Drivers and General Transport Workers Union is one of the most disunited, disorganized and problematic unions in this country. For the past years, the union has been in power struggle which has been resulting in violence.
On March 27 this year in Kenema, the ongoing power struggle led to the beating and stabbing of one of the union’s executive members, Mohamed Baryoh, by thugs allegedly hired by one Chief Juana. Sometime ago in Bo, the current southern Regional Chairman, Momoh Dorwie, was molested and subsequently incarcerated on allegation that he and his men resisted the police. The executive members of the union are almost always before the High Court of Sierra Leone on various matters relating to leadership.
While the union executives continue to be locked in a power struggle, drivers continue to suffer in the hands of the police and the union funds continue to be mismanaged with impunity. Commercial drivers especially, have no lawyers to defend them in court and are not provided with free medical facilities. The parks, from where a large percentage of the union funds is collected, remain in deplorable conditions with little sitting accommodation facilities for passengers who languish under rain and sun while waiting for transport. The non-developmental state of the union has prompted many drivers to question the necessity of collecting the union dues and other union charges.
The rampant embezzlement of union funds with impunity has been the root cause of the protracted power struggle and its attendant disunity plaguing the union as many members fight to secure executive positions just to have the opportunity to embezzle the union funds and keep the union in permanent retrogression.
The blatant disunity that characterizes the union clearly defeats its main purpose which is to keep drivers united to promote their own welfare. But, ironically, the union has gone a long way to foster disunity and discontentment among drivers.
What is wrong with this disunited union?
By Joseph Milton Lebbie
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