GVL Grand Kru Employees Accuse Management Of “Bad Labor Practice”, Threatened Go-Slow

Flash Back: GVL employees finding their way to work

Dozens of employees including senior staff are accusing the management of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) of ‘Bad labor practices, and for vowed to stage a go-slow for they termed the entity breaching of its Concession Agreement with the Government of Liberia and Human Rights Violations.

In a communication signed by Matthew Tweh  who claimed to be the Chairman of the aggrieved worker, said, “Predicated upon the above, over 150 staffs of GVL in Grand Kru have decided to Go-Slow today until GVL can do the right things”.

Below is the full detailed list of the employees’ grievances.

On 11th June, we make known our grievances to the Management of GVL with two weeks’ ultimatum for proper and speedy redress. We requested GVL’s Management to have a mass meeting with all GVL staffs in Grand Kru for said redress.

Failure on Management part, we make known to management the following alternatives:

  1. To officially complain GVL to Grand Kru Leadership and Legislative Caucus
  2. To officially complain GVL to the Ministry of Labor for intervention
  3. To make our concerns and grievances public through the Social and Print Media with all supporting documents
  4. To stage a ‘’Mass Go-Slow’’ across GVL Estates in Grand Kru until our grievances are addressed properly.

On June 22, we received a communication from Management that she couldn’t meet with us within the two weeks but requested June 28, 2019 to hold said mass meeting with us. We therefore accepted the 28th of June proposal from Management.

While anticipating the June 28, 2019 mass meeting, we received another communication from management for the second time requesting postponement of said to July 9, 2019 which we again accepted.

During the July 9, 2019 meeting, our grievances were not addressed Management, therefore a One-week ultimatum was given for proper redress. On July 10, 2019, we received a communication from management requesting to meet with a smaller number of the aggrieved staff rather than a mass meeting. A response to management June 10, 2019 communication was sent with a fifteen (15) men committee setup for said meeting.

We officially wrote the County Authority (Superintendent), Labor Commissioner and the Grand Kru Legislative Caucus to intervene. GVL failed to meet and address these issues/our grievances with these officials.

As Management is yet to meet with us and address our plights, we have planned an indefinite Go-Slow action which kicks off today, July 27-29, 2019 across Grand Kru. (Sorroken, Wedabo and Garraway) Estates.

Under the GVL concession agreement (Article 9), the company was/is required to construct temporary (wooden) housings in every estate for its employees (Staffs) until the permanent housing units are constructed.

The concession further states that within 60 months, the investor (company) shall construct the permanent housing units for its employees and the temporary (wooden) structures shall be deconstructed or removed.

The company failed to construct these temporary housings for employees and staffs in Grand Kru, the  60 months’ period in the concession has long expired and we staffs are yet to be issued permanent company housings in Grand Kru.

The company has deliberately refused to provide the necessary building materials for the few staffs who moved into the temporary operator quarter (mess) in Sorroken. The temporary mess is dilapidated and the company refused to renovate the building leaving the few staffs to live in an area where they are constantly being attacked by snakes, mosquitos and other harmful inserts. The company fails to provide safe drinking water for occupants of the temporary mess in Sorroken.

The few staffs living in the temporary operator mess are constrained to personally buy their own mattresses, floor mats, fan, light bulbs and pay people to carry on upkeep and maintenance of the mess.

Conclusion:

  1. Management must pay retroactively the staffs housing allowance that have been spent on rents.
  2. We want management to give us definite time frame for the completion of the permanent housings for staffs in Grand Kru given the fact the first 60 months has expired.
  3. Management must take full responsibility of replenishing the necessary housing materials needed at the Sorroken Staff mess and immediately renovate the building. –          Upon the commencement of GVL operations in Sinoe, the company constructed temporary housing units in all of its estates and staffs were accommodated in those housings. The company in addition provided furniture, mattresses, water dispensers and cooking utensils.

–        The company within less than the 60 months constructed and completed hundreds of permanent housing units for staffs and field workers in Sinoe.

–        About 95% of the company staffs and Assistant Managers in all of its estates in Sinoe have moved into the constructed permanent housing units.

  1. Housing Allowance Disparity.

–        Some staffs in Grand Kru are receiving US$50.00 while other staffs are receiving US$10.00.

–        The US$10.00 cannot pay these staffs rent.

Conclusion:

  1. Management must retroactively pay the accumulated balance of US$40.00 to all staffs who are receiving US$10.00 as housing allowance.
  2. Management must pay US$50.00 to all staffs as housing allowance. –
  3. Salary Discrepancy. –        GVL is paying staffs in Grand Kru US$ 282, 250, 230, 190, etc. as monthly salaries.

–        There is no defined salary structure or scale in GVL, especially in Grand Kru.

–        No distinction between High school graduates and College graduates in terms of salary

–        As per the monthly fund requisition of GVL, the maximum Basic wage per field worker at the end of each month is US$143.00, Regional Controller (RC) operational expense is US$1500 and starting salary per staff is US$403.00.

Conclusion:

  1. As per monthly fund requisition of GVL, field workers are receiving US143.00 and staffs are not receiving US$403.00 that is requested per the fund requisition but instead US$ 282, 250, 230, 190, etc?
  1. We want GVL to pay staffs attractive salaries like, MOPP/CRC (SIFCA) who is starting her staffs US$550, 800 and 1000 and above excluding their allowances.
  2. Evaluation & Promotion. –        The company conducts appraisals after every six months and or at the end of every year without results.

–        Staffs in Grand Kru have been appraised with recommendations for promotion and salary increment but to date, none of those recommendations has taken effect or has come to realization.

–        As per policy statement there should have been no Gang Heads in GVL and that all those Gang Heads supposed to be promoted as staffs.

Conclusion:

  1. We are demanding that all employee appraisals from 2015 – 2018 with recommendation for promotion and salary increment should be implemented.
  1. All current must be elevated to staffs as per the company policy statement. –          Several staffs in Sinoe evaluation has taken effect over the last 2-3 years while evaluation documents for staffs in Grand Kru remain in HR trash cans.
  2. Staffs Acting in Positions that they are not being paid for. –        Supervisors working in Operation Department in (Garraway & Wedabo) have been acting as Assistant managers for a protracted period of time (2-3yrs) and cannot be confirmed and salary cannot be adjusted.

–        For examples, GRRE Estate has five divisions but with only two Assistant managers;

–        WDBE Estate has six divisions but with Five Assistant managers.

–        Finance & Control Department is lacking of Assistant managers, Officers, and Chief Clerks.

–        Officers are lacking within the HR and other Departments.

Conclusion:

  1. All vacant positions must be filled including those acting positions.
  2. Advanced Training of Employees (Staffs). – Article 12, section 21.1 & 22.2 of the GVL concession agreement states that; for each fiscal year, the company shall invest US$50, 000 for scholarships to study outside Liberia.

–        Since the Company sent out the seven Liberian Engineers (who were not employees at the time) to Indonesia in 2013, the company is yet to send another batch of Liberians after 6 years.

Conclusion:

  1. We as staffs in Grand Kru want to know what happens to the accumulated USD 50,000 that is meant for scholarships to foreign countries or advanced trainings for employees.?
  1. We are requesting GVL management to start sending Liberian employees abroad for foreign studies as per the concession agreement.

GVL Vocational Training and Adult Literacy Programs.        –        Article 11; of the GVL concession agreement states that the company shall invest US$25, 000 annually in vocational training and adult literacy programs for its employees.

–        The company started a pilot program in Sorroken and Butaw and since 2014, the program halted.

Conclusion:

  1. What is the status of this program?
  1. What happens to the accumulated USD 25,000 meant for Vocational and adult literacy programs as of 2013?
  2. Overtime Work and

Premium for harvesting conductors  –        GVL Grand Kru management has not been paying overtime for staffs which is in violation of the labor laws of Liberia.

–        Harvesting conductors (staffs) working in Grand Kru are not receiving premium for work done while truck drivers and their helpers are getting premium and allowances.-

Conclusion:

  1. GVL management in Grand Kru must pay overtime work for staffs.
  1. We demanding GVL management to retroactively pay harvesting conductors overtime and premium from January 2018 to present as it is done in Sinoe.
  2. Transfer of Staff to Different Estate.

–        The company does not have a defined allowance or resettlement package in Grand Kru to give staffs who are transferred to other estates.

Conclusion:

  1. We wand GVL management to provide a defined transfer/resettlement policy across Estate to County.
  2. Education Benefit. –        Article 10; of the GVL concession agreement says the company shall provide primary and high school education free of charge for employees’ dependents.

–        The company is yet to construct schools to provide said free education for employee dependents in Grand Kru and or educational allowance or subsidies for staffs to pay their dependents school fees.

–        Other companies, like CRC, MOPP are providing educational allowances to their employees (staffs) in the absence of their schools.-

Conclusion:

  1. We are demanding management to provide said school under its concession or pay reasonably monthly educational allowances/subsidies to enable staffs (employees) pay their dependents school fees in the absence of the company own schools.
  1. We want management to start providing said allowances to employees (staffs) effective July 2019.
  2. Intimidation/Unprofessionalism on the job. –        Some managers (expats) are in the constant habit of insulting, harassing and intimidating staffs, threatening staffs of dismissals and transfer to an undesirable department and on the field.

–        The F&C manager (Mr. Yun Adhi Wicaksono), Stevanus Cahyadi and the RC (Mr. Prasad Nair) are running GVL, Grand Kru in their bedrooms and at their will and pleasure. The act is embarrassing and enticing to female staffs who go to transact with them.

I.e. it inconveniencing and embarrassing for staff comprise their safety and personal hygiene by taking off his/her shoes before entering the manager mess.

Conclusion:

  1. We want GVL management (expats) to desist from intimidating, insulting and threatening Staffs on job because these acts are unprofessional.
  1. We want GVL managers to be in their offices for employees to meet them easily for business transactions and not in their bed rooms.
  1. Henceforth, no staff will carry document to a manager bedroom for business transaction.
  1. Staff will take off shoes or sanders to enter manager mess to sign official company document.
  2. Probationary Period in GVL. –        The Decent Work Art (labor law) states that; probationary period shall be for not more than 90 days (3 months) and after said period without notice from employer, the employee is automatically confirmed and gainfully employed.

–        Employees (staffs) probationary periods are extended without notice from GVL.  Several colleagues have suffered from this.

Conclusion:

  1. We are requesting management to retroactively pay the housing and transport allowances to some of our colleagues who probationary periods were extended because Management has no legal ground to extend an employee’s probation.
  1. We also want management to give confirmed employees their added or necessary benefits.
  1. Medical Benefit. –        Article 10 of the GVL concession agreement states that; the company shall provide free medical (healthcare) for employees and their dependents.

–        Since the inception of GVL in Grand Kru (about 7yrs), the company has been operating what is called health posts. The current temporary wooden health posts cannot accommodate and provide the basic medical services to employees and their dependents. As a result of the delay of the company housings and schools to accommodate employees and their dependents, staff dependents continue to be distant from them.

Currently, GVL temporary health posts are giving staffs and their dependents papers to buy their own drugs when sick because GVL Clinics do not have drugs.

Conclusion:

  1. GVL management must extend medical coverage to employees and their dependent in Sinoe, Maryland and Grand Kru counties or provide medical allowances/subsidies to employee as in the case of MOPP/CRC.
  1. We want management see reasons to provide ambulance in Garraway for quick response and referral.
  2. Motorbike & Insurance.         –        Some of the staffs’ motorbike contracts have expired. That is, they have completed the payment for the bikes, but new bikes cannot be issued to them by management, despite complaints that their bikes are old, damaged and have passed its life-span.

–        Other staffs are given motorbikes for 30 months with 100 USD allowance while others are given motorbikes for 20 months with 150 USD allowance.

–        The lack of transportation for these staffs is affecting their performances.

–        The company entered a third party motorbike insurance without the consent of the staffs.

–        Employees who are under the motorbike insurance do not know the Insurance Company and its policy.

–        Several employees (staffs) have had terrible accidents leading to serious life-time injuries and the party insurance cannot come in.

–        The Third Party Insurance is not helpful and employees under such insurance do not want the Third Party Insurance, especially in Grand Kru.

Conclusion:

  1. GVL Management must invest the Third Party Insurance or stop the deduction of Third Party Insurance from staffs’ motorbikes allowance and that management should retroactively pay back the US$10.00 deducted for Third Party insurance over the period of each bike contract.
  1. GVL should immediately provide new motorbikes to staffs whose bike contracts have expired and bikes have damaged and beyond repairs.
  1. We want GVL Management to give staffs with motorbike contracts the same number of months for payment and the same allowances. (And not 20 months=150 USD and 30 months=100 USD).
  1. Management should go back and pay the US150.00 across the board. If GVL Management refuses to pay the US150.00 than management should provide their own mechanic for the bikes and provide gasoline to staff.
  2. Safety Materials for Staffs.    GVL is not consistent in providing PPE materials to Office Staffs.

Conclusion:

  1. GVL Management must issue staffs PPE materials regularly.

16      Confidential Staffs.        –        Why GVL Management took some staffs from under the Workers Union without their consent?

–        Why makes other staffs confidential when they and other staffs who are not confidential are making the same salary or even more?

Conclusion:

  1. Management must revisit all quote on quote confidential staffs’ salary and benefits or
  1. Those staffs be placed back under the Union.

17      Resignation of staffs.     –        Staffs are resigning from GVL but GVL management does care to know the reason behind staffs’ resignation. Staffs are actually resigning because of bad labor practices and low salaries. (Examples: (1) using employees to serve in two departments without getting the required salary. (2) Transferring the jobs of employees that resigned to others without any increment in their salaries).

–        Staffs are also resigning or going to other entities because GVL staff salary in Grand Kru cannot build a staff two bed rooms house after 3-5 years of service.

Conclusion:

  1. GVL Management should always be eager to know the reasons behind employees’ resignation. GVL Management should always encourage their staffs by giving them good salaries. We mean, salaries that will make staffs to be able to feed their families well and at the same time be able to save some money to do something better for themselves.

18      Warning to the Following Managers:

  1. Mr. Eric K. Goll
  2. Mr. Peter Doe-Sumah
  3. Mr. Yun Adhi Wicaksono
  4. Mr. Prasad Nair
  5. Mr. Vijay Dalvi
  6. Mr. Stevanus Cahyadi Mr. Eric K. Goll and Peter Doe-Sumah

Mr. Eric K. Goll as General Manager and Mr. Peter Doe-Sumah, Manager of the Human Resource Department for both Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties are not performing their functions and responsibilities.

These two Liberian managers are not upholding the Labor Law and the Concession Agreement between GVL and GOL because of fear that they might lose his jobs.

Mr. Goll and Doe-Sumah fail to effect the Labor Law and the Concession Agreement, and GVL Management is wrongfully suspending and dismissing employees; this is evidenced by the reinstatement of several employees who were wrongfully and illegally terminated.

GVL Management has breached the Labor Law and the Concession Agreement because of Mr. Goll and Mr. Doe-Sumah failure to read and interpret the laws to management.

Besides, thier position as general management for the HR Department in Sinoe and Grand Kru Counties is not helping the employees of GVL in any way or is not impacting employees’ lives. Mr. Goll has a cunning behavior. Mr. Goll has this habit of not responding to staffs’ email whenever there is problem to be resolved by him. Mr. Goll is the only General HR Manager who is doing his work with tricks in order to maintain his job with GVL.

Therefore, Mr. Goll and Mr. Doe-Sumah are not capable to solve staffs’ problems. We are therefore warning Mr. Goll and Doe-Sumah to desist from such attitudes as this will be the last caution from staff

Mr. Yun Adhi Wicaksono – F&C Manager

Mr. Wicaksono lacks leadership ability. He keeps malice, discriminates and suppresses staffs. Mr. Wicaksono is quick to get angry. He lacks motivational skills. He takes 95% of GVL’s decisions in Grand Kru, which administratively is wrong.

If he does not change from these bad attitudes which are hindering or stopping other staffs from growing, then we as Staffs of GVL in Grand Kru we will not work with him.

Mr. Prasad Nair – Regional Controller

Mr. Prasad Nair is running GVL in his bedroom. Mr Nair is a callous Manager. He does not care about staffs or employees wellbeing. He can insult, intimidate or threaten, segregate and keep malice for staffs. Mr. Nair needs to change his attitudes. If not, we will act like Sinoe people to drive him away.

Mr. Vijay Dalvi – Garraway Farm Manager

Mr. Vijay Dalvi is a bad Manager. He can insult, intimidate, discriminate and suppress staffs. Mr. Dalvi is well noted for denying staffs overtime payment. Mr. Dalvi needs to desist from these wicked attitudes or behaviors. If not, we will behave like Sinoe people who drove him away.

Mr. Stevanus Cahyadi –F&C Manager

Mr. Cahyadi lacks leadership ability. He can insult, threaten, keep malice and segregate staffs. He is very arrogant, authoritative and disrespectful to other managers and staffs. Mr. Cahyadi needs to change his attitudes or else, staffs will have the option do away with him in Grand Kru.

20      GVL has no term of reference (TOR).        –        GVL has no term of reference for staffs in Grand Kru County. In other words, no job description for staffs.

–        Many staffs were employed and are working without Term of Reference. As the result of this, staffs are given multiple tasks and responsibilities or overloaded with different, different jobs or works, which they are not being pay for.

–        Staffs are being disciplined for not being able to execute certain tasks which are not spell-out as a TOR for said staffs.

Conclusion:

  1. We want management to develop and issue written TOR to all staffs so that we can be guided and so as to avoid the illegal and unnecessary discipline from HR office.

21      NO GVL WORKING ID CARDS AND NASSCORP ID Cards       –        Some staffs and field workers are working without identity.

–        One cannot be working with an entity and he/she cannot be identified as an employee of said entity.

–        Several staffs (employees) are working, paying NASSCORP contribution and do not have NASSCORP ID cards.

Conclusion:

  1. We are demanding management to take new ID cards for staffs (field workers) We want management to ensure all staffs (employees) are issued NASSCORP ID cards before the end of July.

22      Communication.   Supervisors and other staffs are using their personal phones and scratch cards to communicate with fellow staffs, stakeholders and send reports via phone.

Conclusion.

  1. We want Management to provide monthly allowance for scratch cards for these staffs.
  1. Or staffs will not use their phones to do GVL reporting via WhatsApp, Messenger, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. In other words, staffs will not use these social websites on their phones to send GVL reports to managers.
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About Cholo Brooks 14019 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.