Bridge international violates Labor Law; commences employment for same roles recently redundant!

Labor Minister Moses Y. Kollie, MOE boss Prof. D. Ansu Sonii & Bridge Acting Country Director Stefan Oosthuizen

In flagrant disregard to Liberia’s Labor Law, Bridge International Academies, an educational brand since hired by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf administration for upliftment of Liberia’s educational program, is now hiring for roles recently redundant.

Vacancies being posted on several job sites show the company is hiring after dismissing seventeen Liberians arbitrarily dismissed under a scheme called ‘Termination of employment by reason of redundancy.’

The controversial foreign company now headed by a South African national is even yet to pay off the redundant employees before taking on its newest action of hiring for their positions.

Since withdrawing its Kenyan Country Director on a series of allegations from office romance to bad labor and other vices, the company continues to, in the faces of Liberian authorities, violate key laws of the country, with authorities remaining mute.

Their latest action comes at a time when the company recently sued several Liberian journalists for libel, with its controversial nurse made Director of School, Corina Totimeh doing the suit.

Under the labor laws, roles redundant must specifically have those redundant given first preference in hiring for same roles but the company on the contrary is not adhering to anything from the government or authorities.

A Labor Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity said ‘No company has such right to go ahead and redundant employees without first sitting with us and telling us why, how etc and its sad Bridge disregarded our authority.’

In the communication sent to employees, a copy in our possession, the company says ‘It is with deep regret that we inform you that there is no work for your role and Bridge Liberia will therefore be terminating your contract of employment. This is following the indefinite closure of schools by the Ministry of Health and Education on the 22nd of March 2020 in response to COVID19 pandemic.’

The company however in a communication to employees on a ‘Work from home notice and severe salary cut’ wrote encouraging employees that they will return to work immediately following the resumption of schools and conclusion of the COVID19 pandemic.

Contrary to what’s contained in the letter of termination that schools are closed indefinitely, the Ministry of Education has with immediate effect resumed classes up to sixth grade and those below will from time to time come to pick notes from campus.

‘It leaves us employees confused as to why will the government resume classes then Bridge that runs schools be terminating us for closure of schools, this appears to be a pure witch hunt for us who refused to sign a purported sharp pay cut during the pandemic and proceeded for Labor Ministry for intervention’ one of the dismissed employees narrated.

The company has had strains with the Ministry of Education that earlier rejected Country Director Griffin Asigo working in Liberia on bad labor, disrespect for Liberian authorities and other vices and since had his company replaced him with a South African national Stefan Oosthuizen.

Before his dismissal from the Liberian program, the redundancy or dismissal scheme was engineered so that he clamps down on his critics and employees who refuse to adhere to a huge salary cut during the pandemic.

Sitting now in Kenya, Mr. Griffin Asigo, the former Country Director with the aid of the company’s owner Shannon May is now making decisions that are affecting the lives of several Liberians.

The Ministry of Education is yet to respond to the shocking news but reports have it that the Ministry has spoken to several of the dismissed employees but yet to act.

Several companies like Mittal Steel and Firestone that redundant employees had to reinstate them on request by the government and Bridge is gradually on the same slope.

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