July 10, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
While some aggrieved bus conductors attached to the Sierra Leone Road Transport Corporation (SLRTC) claimed that they were sacked because four of their colleagues spoke to Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation’s (SLBC) ‘We Yus’ television programme, Public Relations Officer of the corporation has dismissed the claim, stating that they were laid-off as a result of repeated drops in financial returns.
Last Friday, influx of aggrieved conductors stormed SLRTC’s office in protest of what they described as illegal dismissal.
One of the aggrieved conductors, sorie Turay, claimed that he has worked for three months without salary.
“After three months without salary, we asked them to tell us why they haven’t paid us but we were told that they were financially handicapped. And the irony is that we bring in money to this office every day,” he said.
He claimed that they were previously paying two hundred thousand Leones (Le200,000) per day to the corporation, depending on the route they ply, but later increased that amount to four hundred thousand Leones (Le400,000).
“On Thursday morning when we reported for work, we were not allowed to enter the Corporation’s premises but no one explained to us the reason,” he said.
“I have been working since May this year, but the corporation only paid me forty thousand Leones (Le40,000) last Friday.”
Another aggrieved conductor, Momodu Kalokoh, said he has worked at the corporation since the 100 buses started operations, adding that before they were hired for the service, they were trained on how to address passengers and handle finances of the Corporation.
He said they were paid Le20, 000 daily with a condition that they would only be paid after service.
Suddenly, he explained, “we met security officers last Thursday at the gate of the Corporation preventing us from entering the compound. We were told that they got orders from management that we should not enter the office premises because some of our colleagues had complained to ‘We Yus’.
However, Mohamed Zoker, Public Relations and Marketing Manager of SLRTC, said all bus conductors were laid off for repeated payment of low returns to the corporation.
“There are various categories under the law of employment. The conductors were engaged on casual basis and were given a daily wage. Because of the nature of their employment, they should meet a target every day, but if they don’t, management will disengage them at any time,” he said.
He said SLRTC conducted a feasibility study with regards revenue collection target in each of the route the buses do ply, and as a result of that, conductors were required to bring in certain amount of money depending on the route they ply.
He added that, “We expect them to meet or exceed the financial target but they are not doing so and that’s the principal reason for their disengagement.”
The SLRTC PRO said the conductors were also allegedly engaged in lots of malpractices, claiming that in most cases, they don’t even issue tickets to passengers.
“In an event where a passenger pays without ticket, that money is definitely not going into the Corporation’s coffers but their personal pockets. The essence of operating these buses is to ensure that we generate revenue but if the revenue is stifled by the conductors, there was no reason to continue engaging them,” he said.