By Mustapha Sesay
Indigenous workers of Bollore African Logistics (SL), the company that handles containers at Water Quay, Sierra Leone’s only sea port terminal, have laid down their tools claiming that 30% has been reduced from their annual rent allowance.
Speaking to journalists in Freetown, the company’s head of welfare for local workers, Alhaji Musa Conteh, said: “the reduction in annual rent allowances is the key reason we have refused to work today”, adding that they also had a lot of other challenges working for the company.
The reduction, he went on, did not in any way affect foreign workers “who earn far better rent allowances”.
Conteh said they also faced “humiliation” from their foreign bosses, alleging that they were being subjected to racist statements. “We are not considered as partners in the operation of the company as we are never consulted before any decision in the company is made,” he claimed.
He revealed that the company had negotiated with them and promised to reverse some of their decisions. “But we don’t trust them. We want to see action that is why we are not working today.” Conteh however assured that they would resume work as soon as that concern was addressed.
One of the company’s supervisors, Abdul Mans, described their working environment as “un-hygienic”. He said: “our office is in one of the toilets that we use. We complain but nobody listens to us”. He called on the government to intervene and remedy their working situation as the company “has no good reputation in other countries where they are operating”.
When contacted for a reaction to the allegation made by the workers, Bollore’s deputy general manager, Bertrand Keleulen, refused to respond. He said: “I don’t talk to the press”.
© Politico 16/01/15