November 12, 2019
By Ibrahim Tarawallie
The Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) has slammed the inhuman and degrading treatment meted against sacked workers of Statistics Sierra Leone due to the deliberate refusal on the part of government to pay them their terminal benefits.
On May 22, 2019, 244 workers of Statistics Sierra Leone were shown the exit door and many of them believe that it was done without due process.
The aggrieved former workers stated that they are finding it extremely difficult to take care of their families as a result of the failure by the Ministry of Finance and Accountant General’s Department to sanction their payment.
Chief Executive of CHRDI, Abdul M. Fatoma, said the issue is of great concern to them as a human rights based organization and therefore urged government to have it amicably resolved within 22-working days or risk facing court action.
“We decided to champion the plight of these workers so that the government can understand the magnitude of the sufferings they are subjected to by failing to pay what is due them. It is a breach against their fundamental rights which is in our constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Fatoma disclosed that they are in discussions with their partners and that if it means taking the issue to the ECOWAS Court of Justice to address what he referred to as social injustice, they will do it.
He said CHRDI will stand against any administration which believes that the human rights of Sierra Leoneans should not be recognised, while claiming that there are officials in the finance ministry who have been working ‘recklessly and arrogantly’ to deny what is due the workers.
“We believe that the treatment is totally unfair and it is against their constitutional right. Government is exploiting citizens because of our poor labour laws. Nobody is safe when it comes to employment,” he added.
A former employee, Martha K. Koroma said: “On May 22, 2019, 244 of us have our contract terminated without any due process. We have channel our complaints to the relevant bodies, including the Ombudsman office but nothing tangible has come out of it. Some of us have worked in that office with the requisite expertise and qualifications for over 17 years.”
According to her, those that were sacked are pin coded staff, and added that they have been made to go through unfair and unlawful treatment from a state institution.