The management of Firestone Liberia says it will shortly reduce its workforce by dismissing 500 employees of its Harbel facility, noting that this action is due to ‘unsustainable losses at its rubber producing operations in Liberia.
Given further reason of the action, a local daily quoting official at Firestone Liberia, said this action by the company is due to the falling of the natural rubber prices, overhead costs associated with the company’s concession agreement with the Liberian Government.
The company said another reason that gave rise to this latest action is also due to the low production as a result of the inability to plant during the Liberian civil war, and the uncertain business climate are the primary reason for the continuing financial losses.
The official further said layoffs are scheduled to take place between August and October 2016. These layoffs are the first such significant job cuts since the 1980s.
For his part, the President and Managing Director of the company, Mr. Ed Garcia in a rather optimistic note said, “Our employees are very important to us and making any change to our operations and employees is an incredible difficult decision for our leadership team,” he said.
Speaking further, Mr. Garcia said, “We remain committed to this country and the people of Liberia, and our main priority is to ensure the long-term sustainability of our operations,” Mr. Garcia said.
According to information, employees who are laid layoff by the company will be provided a severance package in keeping with applicable laws of Liberia avail lf the on the part of the largest employer and the company’s collective bargaining agreement with the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia.
Firestone Liberia, according to company sources will continue to implement a number of other measures to cut operational costs, including reducing the company’s business functions; to reduce expenses, improving operational efficiencies and discontinuing tapping operations in certain areas of the concession.
Company officials also claimed that since 2004, Firestone Liberia injected more than $1billion into the Liberian economy through the payments of taxes, salaries and pensions, local purchases and rubber purchases from local farmers, and has also spent $75million in providing free education, healthcare, housing and security. The company has also claimed that it is losing $40million annually due to the falling of the global rubber prices.
The questions that flips the lips of many Liberians including those who are expected to be dismissed, are pondering as to whether what will be the fate of the dependents of those employees who are to be laid off; especially their education, health and housing.