GAMBIAN AMBASSADOR IN RUSSIA ACCUSED OF WORKER EXPLOITATION BY “ILLEGALLY DEDUCTING COOK’S MONTHLY SALARY FOR YEARS” WITHOUT HER EXPRESSED PERMISSION; EX VP TAMBAJANG TAKES UP COOK SYLVIE MANGA’S CASE!

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The Gambian Ambassador in Russia Mrs. Jainaba Bah has been accused of exploiting one of her former local workers Ms. Sylvie Manga by allegedly taking money from her monthly salary without her expressed permission, Freedom Newspaper can reveal.  Diplomat Bah has denied the allegations. Ms. Managa was hired as a cook and a cleaner back in 2017, when Mrs. Bah was hired Ambassador. Her monthly salary was being deducted by her employer Mrs. Bah. She was also told by Mrs. Bah that she was going to be responsible for her own feeding and other up-keeping while in Russia. Mrs. Bah has justified her actions by claiming that she had loaned an air ticket to Ms. Sylvie Manga to facilitate her travel from Banjul to Moscow. She also said part of the monetary deductions she was taking from Ms. Manga’s salary was as a result of monies she loaned her to buy winter clothes.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Sergei Ilnitsky/Pool/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (9624862m)
Vladimir Putin and Jainaba Bah Sergei Lavrov
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends ceremony to receive foreign ambassadors’ credentials in Moscow, Russian Federation – 11 Apr 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R), Gambia’s Ambassador to Russia Jainaba Bah (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (C) attend a ceremony of presenting ambassadors’ credentials in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, 11 April 2018. Seventeen ambassadors presented their credentials to the Russian President.

In a leaked petition letter written on behalf of Ms. Sylvie Manga, by the former Vice President Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, and was addressed to Jainaba Bah, the former Gambian Vice President, introduced herself as Ms. Manga’s “adopted mother.” The letter’s subject entitled: “Petition Against Unjust Deductions Of Ms. Sylvie Manga’s Government-Paid Salary,” went on to state “Your Excellency, I have been informed by my adopted daughter, Mrs. Sylvie Manga, who you had hired as a house helper and took to Russia, through the courtesy of my daughter, Mrs. Sheriffa Barry, that your had unjustly deducted the following funds from her government-paid salary of 45,000 Rubbles (Forty-five Thousand Rubbles) from February 2018 through December 2019 without her consent: 1. D31,600 (thirty-one thousand six hundred Dalasi) for the return air ticket Banjul/Moscow/Banjul that you bought for her on your own volition; and, 2. 20,000 Rubbles (Twenty Thousand Rubbles:44%) monthly for her feeding.”

The former Vice President Tambajang said Ms. Manga’s employment was abruptly terminated by Mrs. Bah. She added that Manga wasn’t paid her one-month salary as required by government procedure after her removal.

“She also informed me that you informally and abruptly terminated her service last week and have taken back her service passport without prior notice and without paying her the required one month salary in lieu of notice, as required by her official letter of appointment,” she wrote in a letter dated January 22nd 2020.

Your Excellency, she went on, “considering that you hired Sylvie and paid her return travel from Banjul to Moscow and Banjul on your own volition and despite the justification you gave to Sheriffa Barry for deducting 44% of her government-paid salary on a monthly basis for her feeding that this is due to the high cost of living in Moscow, I consider the deductions unjust. No matter how high the living cost in Moscow is, Sylvie cannot consume 20,000 Rubbles in a month.”

Ms. Tambajang also contends that it was wrong for Jainaba Bah to make Ms. Manga to pay for her air ticket to Moscow. She maintains that the cost of the air ticket should have been paid for by Mrs. Bah.

“Your Excellency, from the point of principle and our cultural humanitarian norm for African employers to defray the costs of such expenses for their hired house helpers, you should pay for the total costs of Sylvie’s travel and feeding. Should you have told Sheriffa and I that you were hiring Sylvie under these strange terms and condition of service, I would have refused because Sylvie has children to educate and feed from her salary,” she said.

“Your Excellency, I also consider your abrupt and informal termination of Sylvie’s salary without prior notice and without paying her a month’s salary in lieu of notice is a breach of her employment right under the Government Employment Procedures,” she added.

In responsible Ambassador Jainaba Bah said: “When I was appointed Ambassador to the Russian Federation(in 2017), I wanted both a cook and a cleaner. I was informed by Mr. Baboucarr Jobarteh (former Director General of Protocol) at MOFA that Government is not paying the fares of any one of them. That I should be responsible for their fares.”
Mrs. Bah recalled being invited for lunch by Ms. Tambajang at the home of her daughter Sheriffa Barry back in 2017. During that lunch, she met Mrs. Zahra Sallah, a sister to Sheriffa. She said Zahra and Seriffa were her former schoolmates. She told them that she wanted a cook and a cleaner. She said Mrs. Zahra promised to assist her and she (Zahra) consulted around just to find out that the cook she had in mind was already employed.

“It was almost two weeks before I left Banjul that I got the offer from Sheriffa to take Silvie with me if I wanted to, because Silvie has for some time then hoped to travel abroad. I had known Silvie earlier and Sheriffa had only good things to say about her. I agreed,” she said.

Mrs. Bah has denied illegally deducting money from Ms. Manga’s monthly salary. She went further to explain how Ms. Manga was brought in Moscow.

“I applied for Silvie’s Service passport and she was granted one. I informed Sheriffa about the conditions attached to Silvie’s ticket to Moscow. I categorically made it clear that Silvie would be 100% responsible for her own ticket. That I will buy her ticket but Silvie has to refund the money. Sheriffa confirmed that it was ok and told me that from experience another maid in Saudi did the same and was able to refund her ticket within a couple of months. This was very clear from the onset. Sheriffa who is copied here can confirm or otherwise,” She said.

“I bought Silvie’s ticket by sending the funds in Sheriffa’s name after booking the ticket. Sheriffa collected the ticket and Silvie travelled to Moscow. Upon her arrival, she wanted winter clothes and shoes. These were bought for her with the agreement that she will refund the amount, which she did. Silvie was also informed that her accommodation was free but she had to contribute to her feeding and upkeep. What brought the amount to 20.000 roubles (twenty thousand roubles was the fact that her other needs were included, like sanitary towels, shower gels, body lotion, toilet rolls, hand washing soap. I did not hire Silvie on a philanthropic basis. Any costs that she would have incurred living in Banjul was for her to take care off. Cost of living in Moscow is expensive Nenan Fatou and Silvie has consumed more that 20.000 roubles/month. Silvie Manga not only agreed to the terms laid down for her, she embraced them,” she added.

Ambassador Bah said Ms. Manga was never forced to accept money to be deducted from her pay. She claimed that Ms. Manga was never opposed to the proposal she offered her.

“She is a grown woman who has her own will power to decide as any rationale human-being. Nothing was forced on her and she could have easily quitted if she was not happy with the conditions. She could have also called Mrs. Sheriffa Barry’s attention to the fact that she was in disagreement or to your good self Nenan Fatou as she was in constant contact with both of you via WhatsApp throughout this period (February 2018-December 2019),” she said.

“Silvie received 25.000 roubles/month equivalent to D20.659. How many maid servants/cooks who have children to feed and educate earn that amount as salary in The Gambia?,” she asked.

Below are unedited correspondences between Jainaba Bah and Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, we received from unimpeachable sources. Please read on.

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From: “Jai Bah” <[email protected]>

Sent: Wed, Jan 22, 2020 at 6:42 PM

Subject: Fw: Petition Against Unjust Deductions Of Ms. Sylvie Manga’s

From: Jai Bah <[email protected]>

Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2020 3:40 PM
To: Fatoumata Jallow <[email protected]>
Cc: Salma Touray <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>; [email protected] <[email protected]>
Subject: Re: Petition Against Unjust Deductions Of Ms. Sylvie Manga’s Government-Paid Salary

Assalamu alaikum Nenan Fatou!

Thank you for your e-mail.

I start by apologizing to you as my elder for causing you any distraught.

I had known Silvie Manga since many years back at Latrikunda German when she was working for Ousman Sidibeh and Mariama Camara, a couple who shared the same flat as my husband (Sajo Jallow) at Batchilly’s compound in Latrikunda German. This was in the nineties when both Silvie and I were both much younger.

When I was appointed Ambassador to the Russian Federation(in 2017), I wanted both a cook and a cleaner. I was informed by Mr. Baboucarr Jobarteh (former Director General of Protocol) at MOFA that Government is not paying the fares of any one of them.

That I should be responsible for their fares.

You, Nenan Fatou, invited me to lunch at Mrs. Sheriffa Barry’s residence on a Friday after Jumu’ah prayer in October/November 2017.

There, I met Mrs. Zahra Sallah (sister to Sheriffa and both are former school mates). I wanted a cook and a cleaner but most urgent, I wanted a cook. Mrs. Zahra promised to assist and she consulted around just to find out that the cook she had in mind was already employed.

It was almost two weeks before I left Banjul that I got the offer from Sheriffa to take Silvie with me if I wanted to, because Silvie has for some time then hoped to travel abroad. I had known Silvie earlier and Sheriffa had only good things to say about her. I agreed.

I applied for Silvie’s Service passport and she was granted one.

I informed Sheriffa about the conditions attached to Silvie’s ticket to Moscow. I categorically made it clear that Silvie would be 100% responsible for her own ticket. That I will buy her ticket but Silvie has to refund the money. Sheriffa confirmed that it was ok and told me that from experience another maid in Saudi did the same and was able to refund her ticket within a couple of months. This was very clear from the onset. Sheriffa who is copied here can confirm or otherwise.

I bought Silvie’s ticket by sending the funds in Sheriffa’s name after booking the ticket. Sheriffa collected the ticket and Silvie travelled to Moscow. Upon her arrival, she wanted winter clothes and shoes. These were bought for her with the agreement that she will refund the amount, which she did. Silvie was also informed that her accommodation was free but she had to contribute to her feeding and upkeep. What brought the amount to 20.000 roubles (twenty thousand roubles was the fact that her other needs were included, like sanitary towels, shower gels, body lotion, toilet rolls, hand washing soap. I did not hire Silvie on a philanthropic basis. Any costs that she would have incurred living in Banjul was for her to take care off. Cost of living in Moscow is expensive Nenan Fatou and Silvie has consumed more that 20.000 roubles/month. Silvie Manga not only agreed to the terms laid down for her, she embraced them. She is a grown woman who has her own will power to decide as any rationale human-being. Nothing was forced on her and she could have easily quitted if she was not happy with the conditions. She could have also called Mrs. Sheriffa Barry’s attention to the fact that she was in disagreement or to your good self Nenan Fatou as she was in constant contact with both of you via WhatsApp throughout this period (February 2018-December 2019).

Silvie received 25.000 roubles/month equivalent to D20.659. How many maid servants/cooks who have children to feed and educate earn that amount as salary in The Gambia?

My contract as Ambassador was extended to May this Year and I was to go on fare-paid home leave in December. Silvie was duly informed of the circumstances around us traveling to Banjul. Meaning, there is a likelihood that my contract may not be extended. My husband had volunteered to pay for Silvie’s return ticket if I know for certain that I will get an extension. I did not want to put the cost of returning to Moscow and coming back in May/June on Silvie. Her service was not abruptly terminated last week. Silvie was duly informed in November before her ticket to Banjul was bought. We left Moscow on December 22nd and she was paid her full December salary.

Her service passport is a government property that has to be returned. I held onto it to be submitted with all the Diplomatic Passports in my possession as soon as I return home. In the event my contract is extended, Silvie can always come back to work for me under the same conditions she earlier accepted. If not, any new cook from the Gambia that I will be employing will also have a Service Passport in exchange by submitting Silvie’s passport to MOFA.

Nenan Fatou,

From the point of principle and our cultural norm, I wish, you as someone I see as my Mother, as you are Silvie’s and Mrs Sheriffa’s Mother, could have called my attention and spoken to me first before taking this action you have done. I wish you have given me the benefit of the doubt by hearing my side of the story before getting upset and acting on your anger. I wish you could have scolded if needs be me and/or even instructed me in private. The people you have involved here are people I respect, people I am working with. The last thing I want is for them to cast doubt on my character and integrity. Nothing was strange in my hiring Silvie under the conditions attached. I did not know you have adopted Silvie as your daughter and you never told me that. Yet notwithstanding, I apologize for any pain I have caused you in this process. The idea was I needed a cook and Silvie wanted to have a higher pay. She told me she was earning D5.000 (five thousand dalasis at Mrs Sheriffa’s). I did not hire her as a philanthropic gesture to be responsible for her upkeep. I hired her on the basis of mutual understanding and the fact that she was ready to contribute her fair share for her own upkeep. I am much saddened by the way you have reacted.

Finally, if this will be of comfort to you, I have nothing, absolutely nothing negative to say about Silvie. I meant all the good things I told Sheriffa about Silvie, when I “handed” Silvie over to Sheriffa according to our African norms. That if someone “loans” you somebody/something, the right thing to do is to bring back the karafalo/denkaaneh/xalfinago with respect.

If Silvie does not owe me a rouble I can respectfully inform you that I do not owe Silvie a rouble. She has made circa D360.000 (three hundred and sixty thousand dalasis) during this period, thanks to the fact that I hired her.

Once again I am sorry for upsetting you but I want you, Nenan Fatou to take me as you would your son Omar Ann or daughter Aja Tambajang.

You will go to lengths to protect them from any wrong deformation of character. I am appealing to you in the Name of ALLAH Subhanahu wa Taa’aala to grant me the same care and concern. I still see you as the Mother I call you and I seek your understanding and love.

With my kindest regards/Ambassador Jainaba Bah (your other daughter in Moscow)

N.B: Please, ignore the typo/grammatical errors. I am crying as I write this email.

I am seizing the liberty to copy Ambassador OG Sallah in this e-mail, husband to Mrs. Zahra Miknas Sallah and one who has both Silvie’s and my well-being at heart.

“I AM A HO$TAGE OF MY CON$CIENCE!
THERE I$ NO RAN$OM THAT
CAN EVER $ET ME FREE !” (Jai Bah)

From: Fatoumata Jallow <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2020 12:51 PM
To: Jai Bah <[email protected]>
Cc: Salmao.com>; [email protected] <[email protected]>
Subject: Petition Against Unjust Deductions Of Ms. Sylvie Manga’s Government-Paid Salary

Your Excellency Jainaba Bah,

I have the pleasure to send you my warmest compliments and best wishes for the New Year 2020.

Your Excellency, I have been informed by my adopted daughter, Mrs. Sylvie Manga, who you had hired as a house helper and took to Russia, through the courtesy of my daughter, Mrs. Sheriffa Barry, that your had unjustly deducted the following funds from her government-paid salary of 45,000 Rubbles (Forty-five Thousand Rubbles) from February 2018 through December 2019 without her consent:

1. D31,600 (thirty-one thousand six hundred Dalasi) for the return air ticket Banjul/Moscow/Banjul that you bought for her on your own volition; and,

2. 20,000 Rubbles (Twenty Thousand Rubbles:44%) monthly for her feeding.

She also informed me that you informally and abruptly terminated her service last week and have taken back her service passport without prior notice and without paying her the required one month salary in lieu of notice, as required by her official letter of appointment.

Your Excellency, considering that you hired Sylvie and paid her return travel from Banjul to Moscow and Banjul on your own volition and despite the justification you gave to Sheriffa Barry for deducting 44% of her government-paid salary on a monthly basis for her feeding that this is due to the high cost of living in Moscow, I consider the deductions unjust. No matter how high the living cost in Moscow is, Sylvie cannot consume 20,000 Rubbles in a month.

Your Excellency, from the point of principle and our cultural humanitarian norm for African employers to defray the costs of such expenses for their hired house helpers, you should pay for the total costs of Sylvie’s travel and feeding. Should you have told Sheriffa and I that you were hiring Sylvie under these strange terms and condition of service, I would have refused because Sylvie has children to educate and feed from her salary.

Your Excellency, I also consider your abrupt and informal termination of Sylvie’s salary without prior notice and without paying her a month’s salary in lieu of notice is a breach of her employment right under the Government Employment Procedures.

In light of the foregoing and of the consideration that Sylvie is my adopted daughter coupled with the fact that she is not literate to write the present petition against the injustices you have deliberately inflicted on her, she authorized me to do so on her behalf.

In view of the need for the government to intervene on this case, I am copying the petition to the appropriate authorities for action by ensuring that you refund Sylvie all the unjustly deducted funds you made against government-paid salary.

I look forward to your prompt reaction and cooperation on this matter.

Signed: Fatoumata Jallow Tambajang

Guardian for Syl Manga

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