Protest at Kenema City Council
Thirty Seven redundant workers of the Kenema City Council on Tuesday, 27TH October, 2015 staged a peaceful protest at the precincts of the Kenema City Council in respect of their benefits and other end of service allowances due them.
The workers who belong to Municipal and Local Government Employees Union were signing their solidarity slogans, ‘Touch one, touch all,’ in the early morning hours of Tuesday for the local authorities to hear their voices and consider their plight.
According to reports, all the retrenched workers were laid off by the Kenema City Council in March this year but since then their end of service benefits have not been paid to them. What is so frustrating and unimaginable is that most of the redundant workers are between the ages brackets of 32 to 45.
In an exclusive interview with Mr. Tamba Ngekia, the Acting General Secretary of the union said the organization was formed in 1973 to seek the welfare of their members. He said since March this year the Council wrongfully laid off 37 strong youths who can still be serviceable to the Council without paying them off.
Mr. Ngekia alleged that the Council took the decision because it cannot meet the current minimum wage of Le 500,000 stipulated by the Government.
He noted that because of the delay in the payment of their benefits, they decided to take to a peaceful protest expressing their grievances to stakeholders to come to their aid and remedy the situation.
He explained that they were dismayed when the Mayor of Kenema City Council, Mr. Joseph Samba Keifala called Assistant Inspector General of Police, Alfred Karrow who came and threatened the peaceful protesters with arrest if they continued with the protest action around the premises of the Kenema City Council.
He said they viewed Mr. Alfred Karrow Kamara’s utterances as intimidating and a violation of their rights as citizens.
Mr. Ngekia further revealed that they were surprised at the redundancy because modalities had earlier been put in place by Council staff and the union to increase the market dues from Le200 to Le500 to avoid the issue the lay off, and yet after this increment the Council went ahead and sacked the thirty seven workers without paying them their benefits.
He further revealed that before the increase in market dues the Council was collecting up to Le55 million per month and after the increase they were collecting up to Le 98 million which put them in a better position to pay salaries of workers and benefits of retired workers.
In a telephone interview with the AIG, Alfred Karrow Kamara, he told this press that the protesters did not inform the Police about their action. According to him, in consideration with the law, all peaceful citizens must give 21 days notice to the Police before staging a protest.
He said early on Tuesday morning he was alerted by Mayor Keifala that certain people were in his office using abusing language and threats against him.
He accepted that the retrenched workers have the right to protest but they should do so in accordance with the law.
Mayor Keifala refused to talk to this paper.
By Paul Lamin
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