Labor Ministry Rules In Duraplast Case
Following weeks of deliberations in a case involving workers of Duraplast and Sethi Bothers, the Ministry of Labor has finally handed down its findings with a mandate for all parties involved to abide by the decision in the spirit of harmonious relationship in the work environment.
It can be recalled that on Friday, March 16, 2018, Duraplast Incorporated Workers Association submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Labour requesting the Ministry’s intervention into alleged unfair labour practices, which they claimed are being meted against them by the management of Sethi Brothers and Target H.R Consultant Services, a firm through which some of the workers were hired as third parties.
Based on the nature of the case, Labour Minister Moses Y. Kollie constituted a team to with urgency hear the case. The committee consisted of Atty. Phil Tarpeh Dixon, Deputy Minister for Planning and Manpower, Atty. Welma Blaye Sampson, Assistant Minister for Labour Standards and Mr. Togba R. Croyee Porte, Assistant Minister for Trade Union Affairs.
During the committee’s investigation, they established among other things that the workers were duly transferred from Sethi Brothers to Target HR on July 1, 2015 as a means to outsource the workers from Target HR, while the workers were engaged by Sethi Brothers on a regular and systematic basis for a sequence of periods for more than two years prior to their transfer to Target HR.
At the same time, the committee’s report indicated that Sethi Brothers as a distributor and producer of assorted building materials has subsidiaries including NB Industrial Complex, the producer of Regal Paints, and Duraplast, which makes water tanks, plastic chairs, bowls, pipes etc.
With these establishments, the report narrated that Sethi Brothers has over 600 persons working at the plant of Duraplast, Sethi and NBIC at Jamaica Road.
Of this number, about 60 are expatriate nationals, fully employed while about 150 are Liberian employees. The rest are contractors and daily hires.
As a result of the findings, the Ministry of Labour has mandated Target HR, in keeping with the duties of employment agency as enshrined in Chapter 44 section 44.1 b) clause ii of the Decent Work Law of 2015, to within 90 days process those contractors within its employ assigned at the various Sethi premises to become full employees of the respective Sethi entities with all rights, duties and privileges appertaining thereto.
The Ministry at the same time has fined Target HR US$500.00 for violating Chapter 9. Section 5 c) clause i of the Decent Work Law of 2015.
The money, according to the Minister of Labour, is to be paid to the Ministry of Finance within three working days. At the same time, the Ministry has further requested Sethi Brothers management, with the advice of Target HR, to provide a plan for upward adjustments to the salaries of Liberians already in its employ such that long service and expertise developed is recognized, rather than almost everybody subsisting on various variations of the minimum wage.
The mandates of the Ministry further request the Sethi Brothers management to within the space of the next three months provide to its workers in an incremental fashion, those items of workman safety, which are most appropriate for the role assigned.
In addition, the Ministry has mandated the management of Sethi Brothers to share its plan for catering to persons who had already been injured while working on the site with an indication of whether or not they were contractors to Sethi directly or to Target HR.
At the end of the rulings, Labour Minister Kollie expressed thanks to all parties for their tolerance in seeking redress from the Ministry rather than the workers continuing their initial strike actions.
In separate remarks, the workers and management of Sethi Brothers thanked the Ministry of Labour for the timely intervention in the matter and promised to abide by the decision of the Ministry.