Liberia: 'Pay Arrears By Dec. 15 or We Go Slow'

Along with mining infrastructure, ArecelorMittal has invested in housing and food facilities for employees, as well as a school and a hospital.

-- Civil Servants' ultimatum to Gov't

Ahead of members of the Council of Patriots pending December 30th "Weah Step Down" campaign, and with just 10 days to December 15, 2019, the Civil Servants Union of Liberia (CSUL), has given the government an ultimatum to pay them their delayed salaries and benefits or else, "we will get in the street and demand from the government to pay us."

By definition, civil servants are employees of the government. They comprise mainly career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than politically appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership.

Their statement comes against the backdrop of assurance by President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Albert Tugbe Chie that the government is "working very hard" to stabilize payments of salaries by the end of February 2020 and that, "This special session of the Legislature is a catalyst for the achievement of the objective to pay salary arrears and move on with other development programs.

"We appeal to our people for understanding the situation of the salary delay. Even though the next few months will be difficult with delayed salary payments continuing up to the Christmas season, we can assure you that the government [will] pay all salaries by February, 2020," the President Pro Tempore said on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 as he welcomed his colleagues back for yet another Special Extraordinary Session.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has reported that the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) has fallen short of its projected revenue collection from July to November 15, 2019 by approximately US$60 million.

But Chie said "the consequence of this significant shortfall in revenue collection is manifested in delay in payment of salaries to public sector workers, and the multiplier effect: a sluggish overall economy."

In this regard, the CSUL has therefore called on the government to fully respect the spirit of and intent of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered between the all constituent members of the Union and the government on October 19, 2019.

The MoU, according to the CSUL's statement issued on Wednesday, December 4, 2019, among other essential things and or issues, requires the government to ensure the regularization of the payment of civil servants' salaries.

As such, the CSUL, including but not limited to health workers, all teachers, among them the ones assigned with the Monrovia Consolidated School System, and the CSUL Chapter heads and members of the ministries and agencies, have resolved that the government ensure all salary arrears owed all civil servants, whether three, four or whatever month(s) it is, are fully paid no longer than December 15, 2019.

According to the CSUL, failure to ensure that the salary payments are made current to alleviate the untold or unbearable sufferings to which the civil servants have been subjected owing to what has appeared to be government's flagrant refusal to pay, "will lead to a national go-slow action by all civil servants across the country's 15 counties, including but not limited to the health workers, teachers, local government employees, etc."

"It is our hope that the government will take seriously this decision and act accordingly," the statement, signed by CSUL president, Moibah K. Johnson, said.

The CSUL said it attaches serious interest to the well-being of its members, and will not sit idly and allow "our membership swim hopelessly in the bottomless pit of the no salary syndrome during the festive season."

The statement added, "The re-occurrence of bravely allowing us to go unpaid during the 2019 July 26 period etc, is a no-no in this period."

They declared: "Enough is enough as we can no longer bear the hardship."

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