It has been revealed by Margibi Electoral District #2 Representative; Iva K. Jones that the Management of Firestone-Liberia will reappear before Members of the House of Representatives on Thursday, July 19, 2018, as part of its response process.
Speaking to the Monrovia Times Newspaper in Kakata on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, Hon. Jones said two weeks ago a communication that was written to the Lower House by the Committee on Agriculture and was voted upon that the Firestone Management appears before that August Body to respond to said instrument, something he indicated was adhered to by the management.
According to him, from the hearing, the Body thought it wise that the report is given to Firestone in order to peruse and get back with their response within two weeks.
He narrated that Thursday of last week Firestone appeared and presented their report to Plenary and was requested to reappear this Thursday as Plenary goes through the document to reach a decision.
Rep. Jones indicated that the Firestone Management was invited by the House on a wide range of issues including the diversification of crops by the Company which is out of their contractual agreement and an alleged bad labor practice melted against the workers by the management of the Company.
He said the contract signed between the Company and the Liberian Government speaks of Rubber only but the Company is currently experimenting the planting of Cocoa and Coffee and at the same time operating rubberwood with a saleroom in Monrovia.
“So the Committee saw that it was a violation, they decided to call the management” he added.
The Margibi Lawmaker explained that a few of them from the operational areas of Firestone including Montserrado District #1, Margibi Districts #1, #2, and #3 served as resource officers to the Committee and they were able to flag out some issues and his was the continuous keeping of their Citizens as contractors something which he believes violates the Decent Work Act.
“Keeping people as contractors for a long period of time without employing them that is a violation,” he said.
Rep. Jones further indicated that he also flagged a situation where a Citizen by the name of Lorpu Yekeh who was one of the Company’s contractors was involved into an accident in Firestone vehicle leaving her with disability and after few years the Company said she was not useful because she could not do hard labor thereby terminating her contract as she has not received her social security benefits up to date.
He stated that the Company is still practicing contractor services and with the experience of Lorpu Yekeh and others, he believes that it is not in the right direction, because if there is an accident tomorrow the contractors are not secured and their contract could be terminated as well, adding that it is not good and instead of having people as contractors; the management should take the necessary step in ensuring that people who have served as contractors as per the Decent Work Act for over six months are employed.
In a related development, Rep. Jones has forwarded a communication to the House to invite the RIA management to respond to what he termed as alleged willful and unlawful dismissal of about 17 contractors.
He noted that being a Representative of the people of District #2 charged with three cardinal responsibilities such as Representation, Lawmaking and Oversight, the aggrieved contractors of the Airport in the tone of twenty-four (24) persons in April wrote his office complaining the management for refusing to employ them after working for over 8 years and at the same time appealing to him to appeal on their behave to the Port Authority to have them employed.
The Representative averred that he then urged the aggrieved contractors to write or meet the management appealing for employment which they said was done but the management did not listen to them.
He added that the guys again went back to him and he requested them to write the Labor Commissioner in order to have an interpretation of the Decent Work Act as per their status through which a conference was called by the Commissioner where the RIA management was represented by their Counselor and the contractors represented by their spokesperson and immediately after the conference their contract was terminated and it was again brought to his attention.
Hon. Jones furthered that he then decided to call the management on three occasions through written communication inviting them to his office to see how best the issue could be resolved after the contractors wrote him again but to no avail thereby leaving him with no other alternative rather but to do a communication to the House to invite the RIA management to response to their actions.
He pointed out that what surprised him in the probe was after the 23 persons wrote him appealing for employment 6 of the numbers withdrew their names from the list and they were called and employed while the rest of the 17 persons were terminated terming it as a complete violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia quoting Articles 8 and 18 that speak about equal opportunity for every Liberian irrespective of size, age, and political affiliation.
The matter is before Plenary but what he gathered through a communication from the Labor Commissioner is that the Legal Counsel of the RIA said the management is willing to settle the workers.
He meanwhile said the House has already taken the decision to invite the management to go and explain on the step it has taken.