The president of the Agricultural, Agro-Processing and Industrial Workers Union of Liberia (AAIWUL) has described the decision by Firestone Liberia to cut down its workforce as ‘very unfair, unilateral’ and not in the best interest of the entire workforce.
Mr. Abraham Dugbe Nimene stressed that Firestone’s policy statement that it intends to implement was “very untimely and also runs contrary to the many discussions” that have not been concluded before the decision to cut its workforce by 13% (approximately 800 workers) that will be effected during the second quarter of this year.
In an interview with the Liberia News Agency via mobile phone from Monrovia, Nimene said they were caught unawares by the decision taken by Firestone as it totally runs contrary to the ongoing discussions between the company and the union.
“Before implementation of the policies, the parties should have met to discuss the terms and conditions but unfortunately, the company just went ahead without due regard and respect for anyone and issued a unilateral statement,” Nimene also stated during the interview.
The AAIWUL President’s remarks comes in the wake of a policy statement issued by Firestone Liberia stating that it will cut its workforce by 13% which will affect about 800 of its current employees by the second quarter of 2019.
The statement regarding its workforce reduction dated March 18, said: “Headcount reductions will take place throughout the company’s operations and will include retirements, discontinuation of certain work contracts, and redundancies.”
The statement further stated that its action was necessary due to continued and unsustainable losses resulting from high overhead costs associated with the company’s concession agreement with the Liberian government, low natural rubber production because of the country’s prolonged civil war and continued low natural rubber prices.
It, however, said unfortunately these measures alone will not be enough to restore profitability and, as a result, the company will continue to evaluate all aspects of its businesses to ensure a long-term competitiveness and determine the best allocation of its resources to optimize its portfolio, processes, and culture.
However, the President of the AAIWUL further stated that such decision was counterproductive to the current state of the economy, which creates more difficulties for Liberians, and urged the Liberian government to swiftly intervene to avert the situation.
“We currently have a total membership of over ten thousand and the Firestone workforce is the local number one in the structure of the Agriculture, Agro- Processing and Industrial Workers Union of Liberia,” he said.
He stated that the current pension scheme introduced by Firestone management was also a major component of the discussion which was not finalized and they came up with such unilateral decision to only thwart every effort that will promote industrial harmony in the country.
He warned that the leadership of the AAIWUL will not be a signatory to any document that will not address the current situation at Firestone Liberia until there can be a full investigation and/or discussion with the immediate involvement of the government of Liberia labor regulatory agency like the Ministry of Labor.
He, however, cautioned that the situation is beyond politics and called on the government to do what is required to address the situation. LINA