By Martin K. N. Kollie
Arcelor Mittal Liberia (AML) has redundant 190 employees, amounting to 16 percent of its workforce. According to Arcelor Mittal, the action was taken due to decline in the price of iron ore on the world market.
We condemn this decision and unequivocally call on this government to act now in order to restore hundreds of hopeless citizens from huge trauma and frustration. Instead of providing more employment opportunities for Liberians, Arcelor Mittal Liberia has engendered a shocking campaign to increase joblessness, poverty, hunger, and hardship in Liberia.
According to the Corporate Communications Manager Hester Baker Pearson “in order for Arcelor Mittal to remain operational and competitive in the world, these steps had to be taken. This does not make sense to us when Arcelor Mittal is increasing its exports and decreasing its labor force in Liberia. This only happens in Liberia. How long will foreign companies and businesses exploit our country?
Arcelor Mittal is currently mining and shipping 5 million tons of iron ore a year in Liberia from its operations in Yekepa and Buchanan. The company is also working on an expansion project that will see shipments rise to 15 million tons of iron ore with first production planned by the end of 2015. The decision by Arcelor Mittal Liberia (AML) to make 15% of its workforce jobless is cruel, inhumane, and it undermines economic productivity in Liberia.
Arcelor Mittal currently operates in 61 countries worldwide with an industrial footprint in over 20 countries, but why must it be Liberia always? We want to send this clear message to those who think they can economically rob us that enough is enough. Our people (Liberians) have been through a lot.
Arcelor Mittal is employing more people in other countries, sadly in Liberia; it is reducing its manpower. For example, at the beginning of 2014, it employed 4,600 employees in the Grand Duchy. Arcelor Mittal is the world's largest steel producer with a global employment population of over 232,000 people, of which 37% were in the EU, with a further 16% in non-EU European countries, 17% in Asia, 16% in North America, the remainder split between South America and the Middle East and Africa
In 2013, Arcelor Mittal had revenues of $79.4 billion and crude steel production of 91.2 million tons, while own iron ore production reached 58.4 million tons. Liberia has contributed hugely to these huge successes and wealth accumulations. Liberians are not ‘Guinea Pigs’ and foreign companies must understand this.
The reduction in the price of iron cannot be a genuine justification for making hundreds of our people jobless. Why is Arcelor Mittal not reducing its labor force in South Africa even though there is global decline in the price of iron ore? This is what happens when a country is led by self-seeking and cash-driven stewards.
Are we paying back for the 100 Mitsubishi Pick-ups that were donated by Mittal Steel to the Liberian Government for use by members of the 52nd National Legislature? In 2008, when greedy Legislators were receiving these Pick-ups terming them as good gifts, we raised the red-flag by describing Mittal’s gesture as a form of bribery and inducement. Unfortunately, Lawmakers could not listen to us!
It is time to defend and protect our citizens against foreign interest. Where are opposition political parties and politicians? We will not remain silent on this issue until we reach its bottom. When we return from Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, we will issue an official Press Statement condemning Arcelor Mittal’s unreasonable, indefensible, and unjustifiable decision.
Above all interests, Liberia is Supreme!
About The Author: Martin K. N. Kollie is a Liberian youth activist, student leader, an emerging economist, and a young writer. He is currently a student at the University of Liberia reading Economics and a member of the Student Unification Party (SUP).