Labor Minister Visits Bea Mountain, Firestone And Discussed Workers, Trade Union Plight

Minister Charles Gibson

A  senior level delegation from the Ministry of Labor (MoL)  , led by  Labour Minister Cllr. Charles Gibson, made working visits to Bea Mountain Mining Company in Cape Mount county on Tuesday of this week and to Firestone Rubber Plantation Company on yesterday, Thursday. The purpose of both visitations was to discuss and resolve outstanding labor issues through social dialogue and to introduce the digital work permit program.

During to yesterday’s meeting at Firestone in Margibi County, the MoL delegation initially held separate meetings with worker representatives and the Management, and later joint meeting with both parties during lunch.

The discussions   basically center around two unresolved issues. One borders on demand by workers for plantation security known as Plant Protection Force (PPF) to be  paid for one hour overtime   daily as compensation for not benefiting  from the one hour lunch break other workers enjoy, because of the nature of their work.  The workers also want management to underwrite the extra cost associated with the monthly rice supply in view of Commerce Ministry recent increased in a bag of 50kg rice from $26 to $28

At the close of the meetings, the Minister of Labor held that the workers’ demand for compensation for those of them who don’t have the opportunity to leave job site during lunch break was justified.  Cllr. Gibson also found that the workers’ request   and appeal   for management to underwrite the cost associated with the slight increase in the price of rice was not unreasonable. He therefore urge the Firestone Management proceed accordingly.

At Bea Mountain Mining Company in Cape Mount county, the MoL delegation similarly first   held talks with worker representatives before meeting exclusively with the Management. Later joint meeting was held with both parties during lunch.

During his four hours visit to Bea Mountain Mining Company (BMMC) on Tuesday the workers represented to management grievances which require some immediate and some medium term interventions. The Minister of Labor ordered the management to immediately begin the monthly disbursement rice to some six hundred workers who were being deprived due to legal technicality growing out of a pending case of union in-fight at the National Labor Court.

With regards industrial safety, the management challenged the workers’ representatives to provide evidence of any underground miner who was working as a casual worker or was not being provided with adequate safety gears, as was alleged. To which the workers conceded but informed that there are several workers working in other hazardous areas, like chemical laboratory and blasting, who were not being properly cared for. In response the management said that it could neither confirm none deny the allegation but promised to review the TOR of persons working in hazardous   departments with proximity to harm within one week and take actions to ensure their adequate protection and invite the MoL and the Workers representative to conduct assessments.

The workers were also concern about management’s remittance of their monthly NASSCORP contribution as majority of them have not received Insurance I.D. Cards. The management assured MoL and the workers that the monthly deductions were being remitted to NASSCORP and requested that the workers representative nominate two persons to work with the HR Department to hold meetings with NASSCORP to ascertain the facts. Management alleged that it’s the inability of NASSCORP meet its responsibility to workers that is the source of doubts.

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