18 March 2019

Liberia: Poovin Beverages INC Falls in Hot Water

Poovin Beverages Incorporated in Tarr Town on the Old Road near Sinkor in Monrovia was the scene of serious chaos last week when workers of the company staged a strike action in demand of arrears reportedly owed them by the company.

The company which produces different alcoholic beverages is alleged of being involved in several illegal and bad labor practices including the lack of resident permit for the Indian Chief Executive Officer of the company, Venus Shaman, lack of proper contract and untimely payment of salaries amongst others.

On Thursday, March 14, 2019 the workers staged the peaceful protest singing different slogans amongst which were, 'We want our money, Venus Shaman must give our money, we're tired working free and we want our six months' pay' amongst others.

Speaking in an interview with reporters at the compound of the company, some of the workers of the company claimed that the company owed them six months arrears and were tired waiting in vain.

"My brother, some of us have been working here since March last year (2018). This company id owing us six months and they can't pay us and we have our family to cater to. Some of us have credited in our various communities and don't know where to credit from again because we are not getting our pay from the company that we work for," Anthony B. Wento, Ware House Manager of the company told reporters.

"Last year, we entered into gentlemen agreement with this company to pay each of us fifteen thousand and five hundred (LRD$15,500) Liberian Dollars; the company paid for some time, but presently, they owed us six months," Mr. Wento further stressed.

Two female workers of the company, Mary Kalifa and Joanna Neville confirmed the information adding that they perceived that the CEO of the company (Venus Shaman) is allegedly thinking about closing the company down, but he is not willing to pay his workers.

The workers alleged that the Mr. Shaman does not have a valid resident permit, he (Shaman) was caught in the act of power theft as revealed by the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC) Power Theft Crew assigned on the Old Road on March 12, 2019 and was recently held liable for bringing into Liberia alleged expired flavor of liquor as was discovered in the lab of the company confirmed by the chief chemist Poovin Beverages Inc now based in Ghana through a live Facebook video screen.

According to the aggrieved workers, the power theft was being carried out by Mr. Shaman at night for he and his associates' comfort while the company operated on a diesel generator that consumes twenty gallons of fuel on daily production.

When contacted by reporters shortly after going through Police investigation at the Congo Town Zone Three (3) Police Depot, Mr. Shaman, the CEO of the company referred reporters to Mr. Charles Bruce, the Financial Controller of the company for response.

In an interview with Mr. Bruce, he confirmed owing the workers two months arrears contrary to the workers' claim that the company owes them for six months.

Mr. Bruce also confirmed both the issues of power theft and the importation of expired alcoholic flavor into Liberia by the CEO which he (Shaman) has since confirmed to both Commerce and LEC authorities.

The company has about thirty-six (36) workers according to the controller of Poovin Beverages Inc and is located in the building that once hosted the then York Aqua Mineral Water Company which was closed down by Commerce and EPA authorities on allegation of producing unpurified and unsaved mineral water to the public few years ago.

The aggrieved workers are therefore calling on labor authorities and all agencies of government concerned to go to their aid and speedily intervene before it degenerates into something more chaotic in demand of their rights and just benefits. Investigation continues.

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