He stated that they are Sierra Leoneans, but all subsequent governments have failed to treat their matter with utmost seriousness in ensuring that Elder Dempster line pays their long overdue end of service benefit.
This press also gathered that the Solicitor and Barrister for the aggrieved workers Sonkita Conteh wrote a letter to President Dr Ernest Bai Koroma dated 22 July 2014 informing him in 1991 the government of Sierra Leone set up the Justice Alghali commission of enquiry.
The letter stated that the importance of the to enquire was to enquire into the general complaints by seafarers for nonpayment of their end of service benefit, by the then Sierra Leone Shipping Agency Limited, that was acting as agent of the former Sierra Leone Elder Demspater Limited and other shipping lines.
He indicated that at the end of Justice Alghali Commission of enquiry in 1992, the commission then produced and submitted a detailed reports of its findings and recommendations to the then Head of State, Captain Valentine Strasser for further action by the government.
Barrister Sonkita Conteh further the commission found widespread and systematic violations of labor rights of seafarers by the Sierra Leone Shipping Agency and their principals among others, adding that the commission found that his Clients were entitled to benefits under the British Merchant Shipping Act for personal injury and death, as well as compensation under the British Women’s Compensation Act of 1925.
He further indicated to President Koroma that the Sierra Leonean sea fearers were denied by the then Sierra Leone Shipping Agency Limited, the was acting as agent for the Sierra Leone Elder Dempster Limited and other shipping agencies, noting that his Clients benefits have remained unpaid for over twenty years and their quality of life has massively deteriorated with many of them forced into a life of vagrancy, while others died in despair.
He also noted that in October 2013, he then wrote the Minister of Justice pointing out the Section 8 (3c) of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone obliges the government to ensure that the welfare of all persons in employment are safeguarded and not endangered or abused.
Furthermore, Barrister Conteh stated that in view of the foregoing, he has received instructions from the aggrieved workers for the intervention of the President Koroma as Fountain of Justice and the constitutionally responsible person to ensure that the said commission of enquiry and the accompanying white paper to be published notwithstanding the over twenty years delay.
Such steps, he said would help to resolving historic justice his Clients has suffered , coupled with the non compliance with all successive governments in ensuring that the former workers of the Sierra Leone Elder Dempster Limited and other shipping agencies are pay their end of service benefits.