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7 Months backlog allowances… Aggrieved Covid-19 workers call for immediate payment

Aggrieved COVID-19 Response workers on Tuesday 5th April 2022 reminded government about the constant delay of payment of risk allowances to core and support staff nationwide by NACOVERC.

The group made this call during a press briefing organized at 49 Pademba Road, in Freetown.

Briefing journalists, lead speaker, Mambu Sheriff said the coronavirus disease was a highly infectious disease that constituted a public emergency of international concern that had been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

He said since the last payment was made it has now taken seven months without payment while their contracts have been terminated.

“We are calling on the attention of the public on the  inhuman and maladministration being melted on us by the leadership of NACOVERC and its constant delay  payment of our risk allowance for 7 months. As a team, we have tried all redress mechanism to institutional approach, rather than staging a public demonstration or protest, which in our view may undermine the good reputation of the new dispensation,”  he said”. 

Mr. Sheriff noted that all districts coordinators and Presidential taskforce officers have been getting their risk allowances to date without delay, whilst ours have been withheld for an unexplainable reason which is not only discriminatory but a violation of their rights.

This, he said, has brought a feeling of marginalization, especially when those who should be prioritizing their welfare, have now become advocates for their benefits thereby trivializing and jeopardizing both welfare of the response staff and the COVIDAP response respectively.

Mr. Sheriff noted that they were very much aware of a massive and pending rightsizing of the workforce within the response as part of the government’s commitment to justify value for money and repurpose for national developments.

“But it remains obvious that every contract should have a termination notice in writing and that has not been done by the leadership of either NaCOVERC or the DiCOVERCs across the country. Yet we are doing the needful day in and day out in our respective assignment locations nationwide. We called on the Press and Civil Society, we want you to note that, since July 2021, a one-month risk allowance was paid in December 2021 and another one-month paid in February 2022 nothing has been paid to us since then, he said”.

In addition, Mr. Sheriff noted that they were aware that terminating someone’s contract upon expiration, “means you MUST be in preparedness to pay all their backlogs and as it is, this is not forthcoming.Therefore, we are honestly concerned as a group. It is on this basis, that we deemed it prudent to draw such worrisome concern to the attention of the media and civil society.

“We would also like to inform you the media and civil society that these are legitimate concerns, as every aggrieved response worker, from core to support staff have contractual documents to justify these payment claims and these documents would be made available, should the need arise by the media and civil society,” he said.

Mr. Augustine is also among aggrieved workers who noted that reverting to channeling their legitimate concerns through the media/civil society is considered last resort at this stage, therefore they were kindly appealing to authorities’ concerned to  urgently  help in triggering the full payment of their allowances as their survival and family responsibilities were at stake.

NACOVERC is yet to respond to this latest allegation as they have refused to talk to the media in this direction.

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