A five man investigative committee has been set up in the Gola Forest Concession Programme area to look into allegations levied by workers against the project leader David Zeller.
The committee comprising of the Police, Civil Society, the Press, Local Authorities and the Director of Forestry. Last week Intermediate and Junior staff expressed their grievances over poor working conditions and also laments David Zeller’s attitude and bad administration.
In an email sent to the project leader and donor partners the aggrieved workers alleged that the project leader has no regard for blacks and referred to workers as black monkeys. They alleged that on three occasions he physically molested security staff on duty at his premise and dismisses staff without any warning or query or suspension among many others.
The project leader David Zeller has categorically denied all allegations against him.
The committee sat over three hours looking into the matter and at the end of it all they came up with a communiqué which reads below.
Having listened carefully to staff complaints, concerns and responses from project managers and protected area manager, the following pronouncements are being made which we feel would be in the interest of the project and the workers.
That after looking at Zeller’s attitude, it came out clear that he is found wanting but as humans we recommend that we allow him another chance or else the steering committee will act robustly.
That no punishment be meted out on workers especially when most of their concerns are legitimate but we condemn the approach and recommend that correct procedures be followed in the future.
Finally that work resume soonest while other consultation are being held.
The workers agreed to resume work immediately with the condition that everything will be laid to rest at the end of August 2009.
By Saffa Moriba in Kenema