Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson has assured workers and investors in the country that his administration full support in addressing labour situation at various workplaces.
Minister Gibson made the assertion on Thursday, January 28, 2021 when met with the leadership of the Firestone Agriculture Workers Union (FAWUL) during a one day visit at the Firestone-Liberia Rubber Company, Margibi County.
Minister Gibson and delegation were met upon arrival by representatives of the Management and Workers union of the Firestone-Liberia Rubber Company in Herbel, Margibi County.
Welcoming the Minister and delegation, the General Manager of Firestone Mr. Don Darden said his company has long story of operations in Liberia and are proud to work with Government. “we want to say on behalf of the parent company in the USA that we are happy to have you visiting with us today and look forward to an enhance working relations with the Ministry Labour,” he noted.
Responding, Minister Gibson then thanked the Firestone Management and workers for welcoming him and his delegation. “We are happy that our first visit to Firestone is not to solve a problem, but for acquaintance and to see how we can foster a closer relationship between workers and management as well as government.”
The Minister and delegation later held a meeting with the Workers Union at the Club House at which time he indicated “We took over in October at the Ministry of Labour and we have been trying to understand what the Ministry was about before we start our visitation to concession areas, Minister Gibson disclosed. Noting that we have come to hear from you what is the relationship between you and the management; your mother union and workplace union and other issues that you wish to bring to our attention.”
The workers during the meeting outlined several issues affecting workers and their relationship with the management including: medical invalidation, social security, violations of the Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA), safety, amongst other things.
Responding to the workers’ grievances, Labour Minister Gibson informed the workers that the issue of medical invalidation has already being brought to the attention of the Ministry of Labour by the management of Firestone asking for an opinion for the Ministry on the matter. He said that the Ministry is currently having consultation on that issue because it is germane to the welfare of workers, noting that it is not an issue, but it is very sympathetic that a person will work and at the end of his strength (not his life), but his strength, no one take responsibility for him; not management, neither an insurance company.
The Labour Minister said that he truly believe that this situation is happening in other concession areas and workplaces across the country, because NASSCORP policy does not covered certain things.
He said that the Ministry has scheduled a meeting with the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC) and that this issue will be brought to their attention noting that “We don’t want to solve it here and it opens somewhere else. I am a rubber farmer myself. Sometime you are not sick, but the body just get tired. It cannot go any further and does not amount to workplace injury. In this case, NASSCORP will say, you are not covered and you have not reach the age of retirement. Then who takes care of the worker? They have asked MOL to help answer this question. From this meeting, we will speed up our respond and rest assure that our respond will first and foremost be in the interest of workers.
The Minister and delegation also inspected several facilities of the company including: the Union’s Radio Station, the Nursery and grafting demonstration site and the Duside Hospital.
Minister Gibson was accompanied to Firestone by Assistant Minister for Labour Standards, Atty. Welma B. Simpson, Assistant Minister for Trade Union Affairs, Hon. Zeo Mensah, Hon. Josephus Flomu, Special Assistant to the Minister amongst others.