From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, SALPOST MD Blames Accountant General’s Office for Workers’ Strike
By Mohamed Kanu
Sep 7, 2010, 17:12

The Acting Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Postal Services (SALPOST), Mr. Mohamed Issa Kanneh has said that it is the Accountant General’s Office that is delaying the process of paying backlog salaries and retiree’s benefits to workers since they as an institution have done all the paper work for payment.  He acknowledged that since he assumed office in 2008 he met serious crises within the board composition, though he said that had in no way hindered the payment of salaries to workers.

He was speaking in an interview with the press in reaction to what he referred to as a spontaneous strike action by the workers yesterday 6th Monday 2010 in agitation for increase in salary and the payment of backlogs and retirement benefits.

With regards the payment of backlogs and other outstanding payments, the Managing Director said he had promised to pay all backlog salaries to the workers but only when there was surplus capital remaining after monthly payment since according to him business is down. “I have even taken this matter to the NCP and Minister of Information for solution but things are yet to materialize,” he explained.  He said it was for that reason that he asked the workers to calculate all their past debts including retirees’ payments.  “That is why the strike issue never occurred to me because they already know the situation,” he said adding that he did not consent to it because he was not informed.

However, the striking workers told journalists that their action was premeditated. They said since Saturday 4th September 2010, the authorities knew they were up to something.

The Secretary General of the Postal Workers Union Edward Kamara who represented colleagues explained that their reasons for the strike action has been on the table of management since 2006, following the Public Utility Agreement with the management which they normally enter into after every 3 years to improve on the conditions of workers but that it has not been adhered to by management. He said they were particularly agitated over a recent false pronouncement by the Minister of Information and Communication, Alhaji Ibrahim Ben Kargbo over the media that the management of SALPOST was in good shape, and that the plight of workers was also in an amicable state.

Mr. Kamara in a strong emotion maintained that management owed them Le 38m now in backlog salaries since the Utility Agreement was signed in 2006. “Management has also failed to pay Accrued Leave to us for the past 10 years,” he charged, adding that there is no promotion for workers in the service, no payment of union dues for workers for the past 20 months and no increment.  He said the only time thdressed by the National Commission for Privatization and the Minister of Information and Communication was to pacify them but they failed to address the issue. “Whenever we make efforts to call NCP and the Minister to remind them about the issue, we receive different replies from the two segments which have angered us,” he disclosed, adding that they were not going to work and would continue to strike until government speedily resolves their problem

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