Firestone, Union Sign Bargaining Agreement

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

Posted June 3, 2004

The Firestone Rubber Plantation Company and the General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia (GAAWUL) local number one, FAWUL, have formally signed their post-war collective bargaining agreement in Monrovia.

The agreement which will last for three years includes among other things, 18percent increment across the board in salaries and wages, housing allowances, increment in shift bonuses and a decrease in rice subsidy from US$28.00 to US$25.00 for two bags.

The agreement also takes into consideration traveling allowances, death benefits and transportation for pensioned and invalidated employees.

Speaking at the occasion, GAAWUL’s Acting General Secretary Alfred Summerville, recommended to the Liberian Government to study, correct and sign the proposed concession agreement submitted to it by the Firestone Rubber Company.

According to Mr. Summervile, this will enable the company to undertake meaningful socio-economic developments in the country. He said during their negotiation, they engaged the Firestone Management on the construction of modern housing units for the employees and raise the Harbel School System to a high school level, but the issue of concession agreement emanated. The GAAWUL Acting Chief Scribe however, said the management and the union will again meet on the issue by December this year, but urged the government to sign the concession agreement and subsequently be ratified by the National Legislature by July this year.

Also speaking, Firestone’s Managing Director E. L. Garcia appealed to the international community and the Liberian Government to include rubber planting in their economic development plans for Liberia. Mr. Garcia said though the process is labor intensive, it employs thousands of Liberians in ten counties of the country and has the capacity to generate the needed foreign exchange for Liberia.

He described the replanting of rubber as critical to the survival of the rubber industry in Liberia, noting if nothing is urgently done the rubber industry in Liberia will die in ten years. Mr. Garcia disclosed that due to the 14-year civil war, the company will experience a great decline in production for another 14 years, because according to him, most of the rubber trees have out-lived their usefulness.

The head of the Firestone negotiation team, Public Relations Manager Edwin Padmore, said he was proud that Liberians would handle complicated problems during their negotiations in what he described as a sophisticated manner in record time. He urged his fellow citizens to keep the torch of peace now obtaining in the country burning for the good of their nation.

For his part, Acting Labor Minister George Howe, assured the Firestone Management and GAAWUL of his Ministry’s support and cooperation for their continuous peaceful co-existence, especially in their drive to maintain harmony.

Mr. Howe then challenged parties to the agreement to fully implement it, devoid of prejudice and acts that have the propensity to cause confusion on the plantation.

Meanwhile, members of GAAWUL negotiation team included Lavalaku Stanley, Alfred Summerville, Moses Forkpa, James Greaves, Jarret Boikai and Peter D. B. Young, while the management team included Edwin Padmore, Firestone Public Relations Manager; Firestone Industrial Relations Manager Feay Roberts, among others.

© 2004: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.