By Emmanuel TJ Kollie (Intern)
Margibi County District #1 Representative and House’s Committee Chair on Concessions and Investment, Tibelrosa S. Tarponweh has termed as “dishonesty” Firestone Liberia Company’s recent justification for their anticipated decision to redundant over three hundred seventy-four (374) employees emanating from the Company’s Estate Department.
In a release issued on July 28, Firestone Liberia said all actions were in full compliance with the 2015 Decent Work Act, the company’s concession agreement, and all applicable laws and regulations of the Government of Liberia.
Appearing on a local radio station in Monrovia on Thursday, July 30, Rep. Tarponweh disclosed that Firestone downsized over eight hundred (800) employees last year under the pretense of “facing serious challenges” and later subcontracted companies to rehire those redundant employees as contractors to implement their same core work (tapping), thereby denying the workers of their health, education, housing, and other benefits.
He further called on the Company to be truthful in their actions, terming it as a “clever-game” intended to escape their responsibilities as enshrined into the concession agreement signed between Firestone and the Government of Liberia.
Commenting on the condition of the workers on the Company’s plantation, Rep. Tarponweh said the shoulders of the tappers are deformed.
According to him, the tappers use their shoulders to carry latex from their tapping sites to the latex weighing stations, covering distances for more than 30 minutes.
The Firestone Liberia Company entered into a concession agreement with the Government of Liberia in 1926 to engage in the cultivation and exportation of rubber products, but according to its Management, the company’s operations continue to face daunting challenges; and as such, its Management has concluded to reduce their workforce.
Within the company’s notice communicated to key stakeholders on June 24, 2020, the Firestone Liberia Company explained that it anticipated a reduction in its workforce headcount of approximately three hundred seventy-four (374) employees, primarily from the Company’s Estate Department.
During the Company Management’s appearance before the House’s Plenary on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, Plenary of the House of Representatives halted the company’s anticipated redundancy following communication from Rep. Tibelrosa Summoh Tarponweh, begging the indulgence of the Plenary to invite the Management of Firestone Liberia, Inc. to state reasons for its anticipated action which will affect the livelihoods of over three hundred (300) Liberian citizens.
Firestone Management was also made to produce their five-year financial reports and other subcontracting documents as the investigation of the Liberian Legislature continues.
The reports of the anticipated redundancy have caused serious anxiety among workers within the concession area.