As over three hundred Police Support Staff on Monday stormed the Ministry of Finance asking for backlog claim on increases made to wages and other allowances since July 2011 to present, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Kaifala Marah has assured the protesters that “I will settle your concerns before I handover office.”
The protesters who turned the entrance of the Ministry of Finance into a market centre were holding placards with inscriptions: ‘police, stop the delaying tactics and pay us now’; ‘Hon. Minister of Finance Sir, we are poor, pay us’, among others.
The Minister, who has been newly appointed by President Ernest Bai Koroma as Governor Bank of Sierra Leone, while addressing four representatives of the protesters, said he will make sure that before he took his new appointment, he will address the issues. “In fact, before the end of this week we would have resolved the issues.”
Speaking to this medium, one of the protesters, Moses F. Anthony said their duties as Police Support Staff include cleaning of the police stations in the country and engaging in other labouring activities within the police stations, stating that they are over three hundred (300) attached to different police stations and police posts in the country.
He said the tussle over the payment started in 2011 when negotiation was agreed on between their union and the government to give them allowances and wages which summed up to one hundred and seventy thousand Leones (Le170,000).
“Our salary is six hundred and thirty thousand Leones (Le 630,000). If they added the Le170,000 to the salary, we will be receiving eight hundred thousand Leones (Le800,000) which is more appreciable and can address several problems in our families,” Mr. Anthony said.
“We have protested several times but all has proven futile, that is why we came to the Ministry of Finance which we believe is the right channel to forward our complaint,” he said.
“We have gone to the Ministry of Labour and they have written letters to the Ministry of Finance to pay us our backlog but have not succeeded,” Mr. Anthony stated, alleging that there was no representative from the Ministry of Finance during the meeting called by the Ministry of Labour on the 9th February 2016.
He said “due to the frustration by the police and the Ministry of Finance, they appealed to the President who listened to them and called on Hon Nurudeen Sankoh-Yillah and the Minister of Labour, Mr. Mathew M. Teambo to look into the matter.
Mr. Anthony said the Ministry of Labour and Mr. Yillah have been very cooperative to see that their backlogs are refunded to them “but the Ministry of Finance has not been supportive.”
According to a letter, dated 15th February 2016 from the Ministry of Labour, “…a meeting was called by the Minister of Labour on the 9th February 2016 wherein all the parties were invited but interestingly no representative from the Ministry of Finance was present.”
Also, on the letter, “…As a Ministry responsible for Labour Legislation and Custodian of Labours Laws, there is no legislation forbidding the workers from getting the award…since your Ministry was not represented during our last meeting the Ministry of Labour has prepared the claims to be presented to you and copied relevant authorities for your prompt intervention.”