By :King Brown, (Grand Bassa County Correspondent)
BUCHANAN, Grand Bassa – In an effort to seek the welfare of workers and engage management in a united front, Arcelor Mittal Liberia workers under the United Workers Union of Liberia local#4 has inducted into office a new leadership.
Those inducted into offices to steer the affairs of the workers for the next two years include; Chairman United Workers Union of Liberia local#4, Chea Romeo Brooks, Co-chair Eric Freeman, Secretary General Melvin Lahia Sandie, grievance officer Joseph Boyah and Andrew Mollobe amongst others.
They were elected December 29, 2020 by their colleagues. The induction ceremony took place over the weekend in Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County in the presence of Assistant Director for Trade Union Affairs at the Ministry of Labor Dominic Wreh, the President of Liberia Labor Congress Theresa T. Vaskinda, the Secretary General of United Workers Union of Liberia Dave J. Seneh, the training and research director of UWUL Vacus W. Kun and the Secretary General of AAWUL Edwin B. Cisco.
Installing into offices officials of the group, Assistant Director for Trade Union Affairs, Dominic Wreh, urged the leadership to remain united in their quest to improve the working conditions and the well-being of the workers.
Mr. Wreh also admonished the workers to rally their support to the leadership for better results as they will lead them for the next two years. “If you the workers are not united, you can get whatsoever leadership they will not succeed, but if you the workers are united, you will be able to push them to do the right thing so you can benefit.
The Assistant Director further said: “for the leadership, if you just make mistake and compromise the interest of the workers then you are bound to fall.The interest of the workers should be first.”
For his part, the Secretary General of the United Workers Union of Liberia Dave J. Seneh, appealed to the workers to speak with one voice by channeling their grievances through the leadership and not through individual engagement with management.
He added that the best way for workers to achieve their goals is through social dialogue and negotiation. The UWUL Secretary General is at the same time calling on government as they soon review the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) of Arcelor Mittal to prioritize improving the housing condition of Arcelor Mittal Liberia workers.
Seneh said the MDA of the company supposed to provide housing facilities of good standard that will have electricity, water as well school, but instead, they are providing allowances for housing which is not in the interest of the workers. “Arcelor Mittal Liberia when they are going through the renegotiation of the MDA, the issue of housing should be paramount. We are urging the government that the issue of housing is resolved at Arcelor Mittal because in coming years the workers will not tolerate or will not agree to receive anything they call allowance anymore,” Seneh asserted.
Also speaking, the head of Corporate Services at Arcelor Mittal Liberia, Samuel Stevquoah thanked the union for the smooth working relationship over the years. “Although a lot of time we disagree, but one thing that we always consistently agree on is the interest of the workers, company and the strength that you all have in unity.”
For his part, the newly inducted Chairman, Chea Romeo Brooks said, the goal of his leadership is to work along with management to seek the welfare of the workers to get decent benefits.
He believes that that can be done through the collective support of the workers. He said his leadership will work along with management for the construction of the washing plant to refine the iron ore before shipment to provide additional jobs for Liberians and negotiate to also restore retirement benefits for workers.
“We want to recommend to the government that if an employer comes to invest in this country, the labor unions and all its labor representations must be represented along negotiation with government with whatsoever investment that they want to bring to this country because we want to ensure that our people benefit,” Brooks added.
The United Steel Workers from the USA & Canada and the Solidarity Center from the USA and its Liberia Office extended congratulatory messages to UWUL Local#4 for steering the affairs of the workers.