Tempers flared in Blacksmiths Lane, Seaforth just yards away from the polling station, as the Jamaica Labour Party’s James Robertson, who is vying for another term as the Member of Parliament (MP) of Western St Thomas, addressed a small group of community members. Robertson, who was being accused of being absent in the constituency, was assuring the people of the work that he had put in over the years. “I have been a father to this lane for almost 30 years, long before I was elected as MP,” he said. Robertson’s proclamation was met with shouts and nods of agreement from a few of the people who had gathered. However, one man, who was holding a cup of what appeared to contain alcohol, approached the candidate with slurs contrary to what he had proclaimed. Another resident of the community exclaimed that the man was drunk and asked him to move away. The accusing man refused, which escalated to a brief fist fight. Robertson ensured that the dispute was settled before leaving the location.
Hip-Co King Takun J is headlining a new track hitting the airwaves this week that is pushing the envelope and tapping the consciousness of Liberian youth with the anti-corruption message. The song “Gbagba Is Corruption” is based on the children’s book Gbagba written by Robtel Neajai Pailey, illustrated by Chase Walker, and published by One Moore Book (OMB). The track forms part of a grant Pailey secured from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to pilot Gbagba in schools across Liberia with an initial donation of 1,500 books. Takun J was commissioned under the grant to write and record the song. Grant implementer One Moore Book (OMB), which publishes culturally sensitive children’s books for countries with low literacy rates, plans to disseminate copies of Gbagba to 10 rural schools this year, as well as monitor the implementation of a teacher’s guide developed in consultation with Liberia’s Ministry of Education.“Gbagba Is Corruption” joins the canon of anti-corruption songs popularised by politically conscious musicians such as Takun J, who blends Liberian colloquialisms with Hip-hop beats. He was an obvious ally in bringing the children’s book Gbagba to a wider audience. Now played on radio stations in Liberia, with a strong online presence across the globe, “Gbagba Is Corruption” is also available for free download at the OMB website, www.onemoorebook.com.OSIWA, which focuses on governance and transparency issues in West Africa, has funded the Gbagba pilot because it “believes the fight against corruption needs to start with teaching children the values of accountability and integrity, which opens the space for an honest discussion of how corruption adversely affects them in their homes, schools, local communities, and within the national landscape on a broader scale.”Gbagba, meaning ‘trickery’ in the Bassa language, was published to critical acclaim in 2013 as part of OMB’s Liberia Signature Series. It was subsequently launched in Monrovia, Liberia in February 2013 at the University of Liberia; Washington, DC (USA) in November 2013 at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS); and London, England in December 2013 at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS).A Liberian writer and researcher, Pailey said: “I wrote Gbagba because I wanted to start a ‘revolution from below’ by giving children the verbal tools to question the confusing ethical codes of the adults around them.” Since its publication, the anti-corruption children’s primer has been adopted by the Liberian Ministry of Education as a supplemental reader for 3rd to 5th graders.Gbagba has been featured in the New York Times/International Herald Tribune, The Washington Informer Newspaper, Voice of America, Pacifica Radio’s ‘Africa Now!’, Vox Africa’s ‘Shoot the Messenger’, Transparency International’s UK blog, and the Royal African Society’s blog.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
More than 2,000 contractual workers of Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India (HMSI) Private Limited sat on a dharna inside its Manesar plant in Sector 3 here on Tuesday — a day after 200 workers were told to proceed on a three-month leave citing economic slowdown.Around 150 police personnel were deployed inside the plant premises to prevent any law and order situation, said DCP (Manesar) Rajesh Kumar.HMSI employees’ union chief Suresh Gaur said that talks were on with the labour department and the management officials to work out a solution. “The company’s management has been illegally sacking contractual workers, asking them to go on leave for 3-4 months using slowdown as an excuse. The workers have families to support, they cannot survive without work for so long. If the management fails to find a solution, the permanent works will also join them in the protest,” said Mr. Gaur.The affected workers also staged simultaneous protest outside the plant. They claimed that around 2,000 employees had been told to go on leave over the past few months, and none of them were recalled.“It is a conspiracy to relieve the contract workers with higher wages and hire workers at lower wages. The three other plants of the company in Bangalore, Gujarat and Rajasthan are running smoothly, how come only the Manesar plant has been hit by the slowdown?,” Gulvinder, a protesting worker., demanded to know.Another worker Ajay Kumar said the workers should be suitably compensated if the company wanted to relieve them. “We must be paid one lakh rupees for each year of service offered in the company. It is difficult to get a new job at this age. Most of the workers are in their late 30s,” said Mr. Kumar.The protesters claimed that the contractual workers were given a 15-day service break every year, but this time they were being told to go on a long leave and were not being recalled. Most of the workers told to go on leave were employed for 5-10 years and worked on frame assembly.A delegation of the Centre of Indian Trade Unions, led by its Haryana president Satbir Singh, met the workers and extended support to them.In a press statement, the company said that 200 contractual members, whose term had completed, were relieved based on demand fluctuations and production adjustment. It further said that necessary recruitment would be considered on the basis of future market requirements.Additional Labour Commissioner (NCR) Manish Kumar said talks were on till late in the evening and the contractual workers were still holding a peaceful dharna inside the company premises. He said the talks were held with the plant’s head through video conferencing since he was in Switzerland, but no conclusion could be reached.