Labour Minister Orders LAC To Increase Employees’ Monthly Rice Ration

The Minister of Labour has ordered the management of the Liberian Agriculture Company (LAC) to issue out an additional 25 KG bag of rice monthly to each of its nearly 2000 unionized workers and the rice is to be issued at a subsidized price of 11.00 USD per bag.

The decision grew out of a long-standing dispute of disparity in which middle and senior levels management staff are receiving four bags of 25kg rice monthly at a subsidized price of $8.00 while the majority of the workforce, who are mainly tappers are receiving only two 25kg of rice monthly at the same subsidize price of $ 8.00.

In his Ruling delivered on Wednesday June 21st, 2023 at the Ministry of Labour, Minister Gibson acknowledged the disparity and noted the plead made by management on financial challenges being experienced by the Company which makes it difficult to give every worker four 25kg bags of rice monthly at a subsidized price of $8.00 USD per bag.

Minister Gibson held that his decision to award one additional subsidized bag at a subsidize price of 11.00 USD instead of two addtional bags at the subsidize price of $8.00 is based on a consideration of management plead of financial challenges facing the company and an acknowledgement that LAC is one of the few agriculture companies in Liberia that provides to all its workers retirement benefit of one month salary for every year of work, notwithstanding, NASSCORP benefits, and it also retains retirees on it payroll for up to six months until NASSCORP retirement benefit is paid.

In May (of last month) unionized workers of LAC went on a go-slow in account of dispute in rice subsidy and other issues; however, the issue of rice was not resolved, but was forwarded for the intervention of Liberia Labour Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson.

Minister Gibson further told both parties that the issue of replacing overage or dropped children from the employees’ Personnel Action Form as per the MOU, must be thoroughly studied by the Parties and the conclusion will then be copied/referenced into the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiations.

The Minister of Labor furthered that as to Count 1, letter “c” of the Memorandum of Understanding dated May 10, 2023, the five (5) days lost during the strike action and marked as Excused Absence (EA) without pay which was suspended will be deducted from the employees’ work attendance over a five-month period from July 2023 to November 2023.

The resolution is binding on all parties, their heirs, administrators, and successors in business.

For their part, the GAAWUL and LAWU welcomed the signing of the MOU describing it as progress being made in the interest of workers, especially in the area of increment in their rice supplies, but noted that more needs to be done in future negotiations.

Meanwhile, after listening to the Minister’s decisions, the LAC management also expressed gratitude to the Liberia Labour Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, and his deputies for their intervention in resolving and maintaining peace, which brought calm to LAC plantation.

The Liberian Agriculture Company also commended the leadership of GAAWUL, LAWU, and the unionized employees, urging both parties to respect the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the resolution made by the Minister of Labour.

The Liberia Minister of Labour, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson called on the Parties to ensure that the sanctity of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the Memorandum of Understanding be respected and maintained in its entirety.

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