By Eldred Thomas |
Dozens of workers of the Almwood Logging and Sawmill Company operating in western Liberia (Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties) have complained of bad labor practice, and other unfavorable working condition which they alleged is currently taking place at the site of the Company.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the GNN, Mr. Varney Askie, one of the Bush Managers at Almawood , explained that some of the workers who were asked recently by the management to leave their respective assignments are now stranded in the forest.
According to him, the abrupt downsizing took place two weeks ago with the Almawood management citing financial constraints, but without any prior information.
He said most of his colleagues abruptly without prior knowledge for their downsizing making specific reference of those working in the forest of Gola Konneh district in Grand Cape Mount County, stressing, “All of these downsized employees are currently now stranded in the forest without food”, he also alleged that the Company owed them eight months’ salary arrears.
Mr. Askie further told GNN that a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that was reached between Sun Yeun Logging Company where they previously worked and Almawood to pay eight months’ salary arears owed by the company.
According to him, two installments have been made out of three installments agreed upon in the MOU, but the last one is yet to come forth since the 2016 deadline, and wondered why the company is yet to explain to them about their salary payments.
He further pointed out that a form was given them with the understanding that they were employees, but ever the contractor status remains unclear.
The Almawood workers have meanwhile vowed not to be violent in seeking redress, but engage Labor Ministry authorities to ensure their money is paid and bad labor practice and recent abrupt downsizing.
“With the kind of stance he Labor Ministry under Minister Moses Kollie is taking we cannot hesitate to reach our plights at the Ministry, a heavy duty driver, Mohammed Foday intimated”.
Ivorians, Senegalese and Lebanese working with Almawood are said not be affected by the abrupt downsizing.
When contacted at his Vincent town Office, the General Manager of Almawood Hussien Mohsen admitted that scores of its workers in the Gola Konneh forest were put down.
Hussien attributed company’s the action to downsize some workers to the lack of finance to continue the harvesting of log.
Mr. Mohsen noted that out thirty three United States dollars, it has ready settled the workers and now left with a balance of over ten thousand United States dollars.
Responded to questions about settling the workers, Mohsen said the company could not announce a definite time for the balance payment of their salary arrears.
In a rather frustrated tone, he said Liberia is not investment friendly, recounting breakdown the company experienced for ten months during closure of the Lofa Bridge by government.