Labour Ministry Orders Arcelor Mittal-Liberia To Pay US$308,000 To Aggrieve Former Workers

Press release

Monrovia, September 21, 2021… The Ministry of Labour has ruled that the Management of Arcelor Mittal-Liberia pays aggrieve former workers Three Hundred and Eight Thousand United States Dollars (US$308,000) constituting total and final settlement for unfair labour practices meted against them by the Management.

Ministry mandate was contained in a ruling read by the Minister of Labour, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson at a press conference attended by the Ministry of Justice, National Bureau Concession and the leadership of the aggrieve workers at the Ministry of Labour in Monrovia.

See Ruling below

Date: September 21, 2021

Re: Aggrieved Contractors v. Management of Arcelor Mittal Liberia

 Case History

In October of 2020 the Aggrieved  former contractors of Arcelor Mittal Liberia submitted a complaint to the Ministry of Labour (hereinafter Ministry) requesting the Ministry intervention into alleged unfair labour practices which, they claim are being meted against them by the Management of Arcelor Mittal Liberia (hereinafter AML).

After initial meetings by  Minister Charles Gibson with both AML management and the complainant , the matter was turned over to  Deputy Minister Hannah Karbo,  who jointly spearheaded intervention with Assistant Minister Zeo Mensah. However after a prolonged stalemate, the matter  was transferred to the Assistant Minister for Labour Standards, Atty. Welma Blaye Sampson, with specific instruction  to investigate the matter and submit findings in keeping with the law.

During the investigation, the workers submitted that they are Five Hundred Forty-Six (546) contractors who were hired by AML at different points in time ranging between four to seven years  to work in various departments at two different AML sites, Buchanan and Yekepa. They said that they were employed as  contractors  but later  turned over by AML  to employment Agency   firms; Frontline and ROSNA,  who later lay them off after two years after serving in their respectively same positions at various AML facilities in Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties.   They also claimed that AML failed in its promise to   have them reemployed when business improves. The aggrieved former workers submitted that these acts by AML amounted to   unfair labor practices.  They also produced some  I.D. Cards, Access passes  and Social Security ID Cards allegedly  issued to them by AML to substantiate their claims of being former workers of AML.

In defense, the AML Management asserted  that its action to transfer the workers status from directly  under AML   to through employment   Agencies  was  not illegal. AML claimed that the aggrieved former workers were casual workers and as such not entitled to employment benefits.   They noted  that the  issuance of Access Pass to workers was to allow them to gain access to AML sites. However  in the mind of contractors, they were contractors of AML, not Frontline/ROSNA because they had never applied for a job to Frontline/ROSNA.

While these  investigations  were   ongoing the Aggrieved former workers blocked the rail on two occasions  in protest of what they termed  as AML “ delay tactics “ in reaching a compromise in order to have the case prolonged in  the judicial process. The blockages of the rail and threats of  blockage was condemned by Government  but peacefully resolved without the use of force.

  1. Findings/Facts

After listening patiently and reviewing documents presented by the parties, the Investigation gathers the following facts or findings:

2.1. That some of the contractors were duly issued access pass and hired at different points in time.

2.2. That AML introduced Frontline/ROSNA in 2013 to the contractors after most of them  some had already worked for more than three years as contractors on AML sites.

2.3. That many of the  contractors/ aggrieved former workers  were layoff at various time  by Frontline/ROSNA while others were made redundant by AML.

2.4. That in 2017 AML carried on new employment without considering the layoff workers

The issues to be addressed is whether or not:

AML continuous engagements of  contracted workers uninterrupted beyond the  three  years  constitute a violation  the applicable  Labor Law at that time?

The contractors who have worked with AML before transferred to Frontline/ROSNA have a legally enforceable right to receive benefits from AML?

Analysis

 We answer to both questions

3.1. The law governing during the time of engagement requires that the maximum period of service that may be stipulated in any contract of employment in writing shall be two years for a contract to be fulfilled and the maximum period of service for re-employment contract in writing shall be 18 months. There is no dispute as to whether the aggrieved contractors have spent more than 36 months at work.

3.2 Also several opinions of the Supreme Court are settled on this questioned.

3.3. Eventually , about a week ago both Parties, AML Management and the leadership of the aggrieved former workers eventually resulted to dialogue under the watchful eyes of the Ministries of Labor and Justice, assisted by the Bureau of Concession and arrived at a negotiated settlement of US$308,000 ( Three hundred and eight thousand United States dollars)

Ruling:

That AML pays the aggrieve former workers US$308,000 ( Three hundred and eight thousand United States dollars) constituting total and final settlement  

That AML commences the disbursement of this amount directly to the affected workers on Thursday , September 23, 2021.

 That this payment  be disbursed to the affected workers  by AML  in Nimba and Grand Bassa Counties where AML has its operations and that  the entire  payment process be completed before October 1, 2021.

That the Leadership of the Aggrieved formers workers be given US$15,000 ( Fifteen thousand United states dollars ) to cover its overhead during the prolonged struggle for workers’ rights , despite not being a registered  workers Union.

 That the Leadership of the Aggrieved formers workers shall make itself available to be present   during the  disbursed period  

That the Ministry of Labor, Ministry of Justice and the Bureau of Concession will provide compliance monitoring to the process 

That this amount shall be disbursed  based on the list of names submitted to the Ministry of Labor by  the Leadership of the Aggrieved former workers; copy of which is attached to this ruling and the amount to be disbursed to each affected workers .

 That the attitude of blocking the rail because of pending grievances between management and workers is unacceptable and can result to damage of property, juries, death and/or economic sabotage. Accordingly government will not tolerate any further act. 

And it is so ordered!

 Signed:

              Cllr. Charles H. Gibson

             MINISTER OF LABOR

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About Cholo Brooks 15575 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.

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