Two employees of the Oporto Restaurant in Sinkor have commended the Minister of Labor, Moses Y. Kollie for his timely intervention in their situation through a social dialogue which led to their reinstatement by the management of the restaurant.
According a communication addressed to the Minister of Labor, dated June 10, 2019, the management said that Messrs. William Gayflor and Nathan Membeh, both chefs at the restaurant, were dismissed in accordance with Chapter 14, Section 14.3 of the Labor Law of Liberia.
According to the communication, the decision of the said management to have the pair dismissed was precipitated by their continuous misconduct and misleading of staff. “On June 7, 2019, they were caught inciting staff to leave work ahead of the end of normal working hours. This behavior is harmful to our business and therefore, the management decided to terminate the services of both employees effective immediately,” the communication noted.
On the other hand, it can be referenced that on June 21, 2019 while the Minister and some staff of the Ministry were attending the 108th Session of the ILO in Geneva, Switzerland, the two dismissed employees also filed a formal complaint with the Ministry, against their employer.
Disappointingly, without awaiting the Ministry’s intervention into the complaint, the two dismissed workers chose to take their issue to the media and for days Prime FM has been discussing the issue in a manner that suggested that the Ministry was insensitive to the complaint of the workers. As a result, the attention of the Ministry of Labor was drawn to the matter; thus leaving the Minister with no other alternative but to invite both the management and dismissed workers to a conference on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 12: noon at the Ministry of Labor.
Following nearly an hour of intense negotiation and social dialogue, led by Labor Minister Kollie, the management agreed to accept the former workers back on job based upon the intervention of the Ministry, thereby withdrawing the letters of dismissal issued them.
The workers also accepted to sign their letters of warning which they had earlier refused to sign, according to them because of lack of clarity, which also propelled their dismissal.
Both management and the two workers assured the Ministry that they would work together in peace and ensure that such a situation does not reoccur in the workplace.
“These two guys are the most important employees and highest paid staff at our restaurant and we have had no problem with them until this day. I even tried calling them on several occasions to return to work because in the restaurant business, the customers go after the best service and these guys are people who have been preparing our meals for the last two years. I reminded them that they have families that they need to care of, but they refused to return,” Zaid Abdel Khalek, General Manager of the Oporto Restaurant disclosed during the dialogue.
Speaking on behalf of the two dismissed employees, Mr. William Gayflor admitted that they walked away on June 7, 2019 without approval from the management and upon their return to job, they were issued two letters of warning for the afore-cited offense, which they refused to sign, that which led to their dismissal. Additionally, he admitted that they are well paid by the restaurant and as such, were willing to resume work.
“We want to thank the Minister of Labor for the way he and his team handled our case. They were unbiased in their judgment; they played their true role as “twins-mother” during the discussions, which has encouraged us to return to work without any precondition. We accept to return to work in good faith and promise that we are going to work in line with our bosses’ instructions like we did before and will do absolutely nothing to undermine the interest of the business,” they assured.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Labor has assured workers across the country that the Ministry of Labor is committed to ensuring that the rights of workers and employers are protected at all times in keeping with the Decent Work Act of Liberia.
He is at the same time is calling on all media outlets in the country to countercheck their information before publication or broadcast so as to remain professional and stop spreading falsehood about the workings of the Ministry.
The conference was attended by the representatives of the Oporto Restaurant headed by its General Manager, Zaid Abdel Khalek, the two dismissed workers (Gayflor and Membah), the Station Manager of Prime FM, Mr. Kelvin Demie, Minister of Labor and his team.