After three years negotiations to get their benefits proved futile, sacked and disgruntled employees of the MARIKA Palm Kernel Oil Mill in Wellington in the east end of Freetown on 6th April 2010 stormed the factory and barricaded the entrance to prevent anyone from entering.
The workers displayed placards demanding justice as they were terminated from duties without payment of their benefits.
Awoko reporter arrived at the scene and caught up with the spokesman of the angry workers Mohamed Sesay who disclosed that the management of MARIKA PK Oil Mill dismissed over 23 of them in 2007 without giving any valid reason for their termination.
“We were underpaid, maltreated and sacked without benefit” Mohamed Sesay stated.
He explained that the affected workers made a formal complaint to the Hotel, Food, Drink, Entertainment and Tourism workers Union which is the body governing them. The Union took the matter to the Ministry of Labour which after serious investigations gave orders through a formal letter for the Management of the MARIKA Palm Kernel Oil Mill to pay the benefit of the affected workers.
Mohamed Sesay said up till now the Management has refused to pay them the benefit that is due them despite the intervention of the Minister.
“We have our families we have to feed them pay school fees for our children and even house rent, how really are these people expecting us to survive” he cried.
In his reaction to the action taken by the aggrieved former employees a very senior member of the MARIKA Palm Kernel Oil Mill Management team Mr. Wusu Koroma said Management is ready to pay the workers their benefits but considering the huge sum of money involved they cannot afford to pay all at one go and so have decided to call on the aggrieved EX-workers to negotiate with them on the terms of payment but the workers have refused to hold any negotiation meeting with them.
“This is the problem Mr. journalist now they have blocked the entrance to the factory and they have refused to listen to us” Mr. Koroma added.
According to the angry Ex-workers this is not the time for negotiation but rather it’s time for action and the only language that will be pleasing to their ears is “here is your benefit package.” By William Freeman