Normal activities at the Ministry of Finance came to a standstill Thursday, 26 June when angry employees scheduled to be redundant barricaded the main entrance to the Ministry in demand of attractive packages. The pending redundancy is in the wake of plan by the Government to merge the Ministry of Finance with that of Planning and Economic Affairs, which would eventually see some employees of both ministries layoff.
The striking workers were, however, restrained after a team of riot officers from the Emergency Response Unit or ERU of the Liberian National Police assisted by the Police Support Unit or PSU arrived on the scene and blocked the Ministry, preventing the protesters from entering the premises.
The combined ERU and PUS officers were also seen monitoring the movement of people into the Ministry compound after stopping disenchanted workers from protesting at the entrance of the building. The police riot squad was headed by the Deputy Police Director for Operations, Abraham Kromah, who told the disenchanted employees to leave the premises of the Finance Ministry.
Deputy Director Kromah told reporters that his presence at the Ministry was to maintain law and order. He said the riot police were deployed at the Ministry after a tip off that some employers were stopping free flow of traffic in Central Monrovia.
He said, though there was no report of property damage, the police will arrest anyone bent on causing instability at the Ministry. The Deputy Police Chief said the riot officers will remain posted at the Finance Ministry until the situation is completely brought under control. One of the protesting employees, James Peah, told The NewDawn that they were protesting due to reports from authorities to downsize them.
Mr. Peah also narrated that the authorities of the Ministry have placed employees to be affected into categories, employees that have worked with the Ministry for 10 years and are a BSc degree holder will be entitled to US$3,000, while those who have served from 10 to 20 years will receive US$7,000 respectively as redundancy packages, which he said they are totally opposed to.
"We came here to express our disenchantment to the people of Liberia and the wicked authorities of this Ministry that we will not accept any chicken change from the Ministry or the Liberian government. Is this the way they want to pay us for our services to the people of Liberia? But we said 'no to them' for this, we will not stop protesting until we are satisfied," James Peah maintained. Finance Ministry authorities are yet to respond officially to Thursday's incident.