NRC paid workers' solicitor «petty cash» to end case
By David Stenerud
Translated by Elisabeth Christensen
Due to the fact that the disarming and demobilisation process in Tubmanburg in Liberia is coming to an end, the Norwegian Refugee Counsil (NRC) reduced their workstock during the middle of July. That ment at least 100 contracts were brought to an end.
According to the newspaper, 'The News', of capital Monrovia, the workers say they have been victim to several contract breaks: Such as one weeks verbal notice, instead of one months writen notice as they are entitled to. They have been payed 217 dollar per month – the agreement was 275 dollar. They were held at work from seven morning until seven at night, including Sundays and public holidays, with no overtime pay.
The workers claim was at least one months pay in compensation, worth up to 30.000 dollars in total.
Workers get nothing
– Have you finally come to an agreement with the workers? NorWatch asked director Leif Søfting at the NRC demobilisation camp in Liberia.
– We have had a solicitor to go through this, and everything was as it should be. We will contribute with a symbolic amount of money to come to an end with this case, said the director.
– How much money are we talking about?
– Well, it is a petty amount, 200 dollars to cover the solicitor fees. So that this solicitor ends the case.
– Does that mean that the solicitor gets his money, and the workers claims are not taken into consideration?
– They were not.....it was not a realistic claim, Søfting stated: – The problem is that the lawyers in Liberia have so little to do that they take on all kinds of strange cases, hoping that they will earn a little.
NorWatch has not been able to get comments from the workers’ solicitor, or their spokesman, Prince Nipeh in Tubmanburg.
The weekly newspaper, 'The News', in Monrovia demanded in their editorial column, July 19 that the parties had to come to an agreement through compromize.
It shall be left unsaid whether the workers solicitor and NRC really can use this term for the agreement they have now reached.
NorWatch has been in touch with the editor of 'The News', and as NorWatch understand it, the paper may follow up the case based on the statements NorWatch have obtained from Mr. Søfting at the NRC camp in Tubmanburg.
NRC dismiss worker’s claims
The facts: The NRC camp in Tubmanburg
The Norwegian Refugee Council have been responsible for the socalled D2-unit in Tubmanburg. The military are responsible for D1 and also take care of disarming, whilst the Norwegian organization administrate for demobilization.
The Liberians are internated in NRC's demobilisation camp for five days. Here they are being identified and registred, geographical origins are mapped out, mental and physical health cheques are carried out and social education is given. Minors are selected and taken care of seperately.
The process has almost come to an end, and the workstock is now cut 50 percent.