Some 30 workers of the Gola Forest Programme have been sent home from work with full pay until investigation that led to their strike action on 3rd August is completed.
The Managing Director of Forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security Mr. Sheku A. Mansaray said the partners of the Gola Forest Programme, namely the Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL), the Forest Division (FD) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) are fully committed to the successful implementation of the Gola forest Programme.
The commitment is a firm part of President Koroma’s determination to elevate the status of the Gola Forest to that of a National Park and is a national and international priority.
This commitment is further strengthened by the generous support of international donors over the years.
Adding that anything that restrains or impedes the successful implementation of the Gola Forest Programme and the security of the Gola Forest will be promptly investigated and addressed by the Gola Partners.
A strike action was carried out by some programme staff on 3rd August 2009 without issuing the 21 days notice.. The Gola Forest Management viewed their action as “effectively undermining” the authority of the Programme management.
The Gola Partners issued a communiqué on 7th August 2009 which was agreed by the partners and the programme staff.
This communiqué was aimed at addressing the situation with a view to reaching an amicable solution. Workers have however complained that the prevailing situation contradicts and undermines the statements and commitments made in the communiqué and it is now therefore cancelled.
Mr. Mansaray pointed out that the partners have agreed to undertake the following: actions in order to bring the program back to normalcy in the shortest possible time;
that an internal assessment and review of the current situation will be carried out by the Gola Partners.
The Gola partners will within three weeks conduct their assessment and review as quickly and effectively as possible.
An assessment and review team will be established, comprising Gola Partners and other relevant persons as deemed necessary to look into the police finding of the strike action and allegations levied by the staff.
By Saffa Moriba in Kenema