Monrovia – The government of Liberia has ordered the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) rubber processing plant to remain closed until it is assessed by independent technicians for worker safety as a result of the recent accident at work.
On Saturday August 28, 2021, a joint delegation of the Executive and the Senate Labor Committee visited LAC to understand the real circumstances which led to the industrial accident which resulted in the death of one of the employees. of the company, the late Emmanuel Joe.
Members of the joint delegations were: Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Willington Geevon Smith and Senator J. Milton Tenjay, Minister of Labor, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, Minister of Agriculture Jennis Cooper, Acting Minister of Justice, Nyenatee Tuan, Deputy Director of Police Prince Mulbah, among others.
Speaking to reporters after the one-day visit, Minister of Labor Cllr. Charles H. Gibson said, “We have met and chatted with the family and shared their grief, we have converted the condolences of the government. We had discussions with the workers’ union, they had their share of the story and their concerns. We inspected the plant where the incident occurred and concluded with a meeting with management.
Minister Gibson said during these meetings, delegations stressed the need for management to work with the family to ensure the peaceful and decent burial of the death and were informed that negotiations are underway between the family and management regarding benefits.
The minister said the Ministry of Labor will position two technicians, the Deputy Director of Union Affairs and Social Dialogue, Mr. Dominic Wreh, who will work with the workers’ union, family and management to ensure that what they discuss is concluded and the death gives a decent burial as well as peace and quiet remains at LAC. While the director of the industrial security department of the ministry, Mr. Author Jimmy will conduct an assessment of the security requirements and policies of the company.
“We want to make sure that by Wednesday of next week, to determine if the plant is safe enough for operations. But before that date, we intend to partially open it so that our farmers who wish to sell their rubber can have it sold and allow the buffer rubber that the company has already processed to bring to the port before it. does not deteriorate and buyers refuse them. We hope that by next week we will achieve these goals.
The Liberian Minister of Labor maintained that his ministry will continue its post-burial investigations into all aspects of work at LAC.
He described what is happening at LAC’s borders around the guilt, but more so, it clearly borders on negligent cooperation and as such, under the superior defendant principle, management takes responsibility for what its workers make. And as such, in this case, it was a working day, there were supervisors, technicians, cleaners and whatever happens on this site, management takes responsibility.
The Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Willington Geevon Smith, also spoke. Senator Smith said the Senate is concerned about stability and harmony on the plantation and, as such, will report to plenary on Tuesday on the situation at LAC.
On other matters concerning the operations and administration of the company as regards the consequences of this situation, Senator Smith said that the Ministry of Labor and the relevant ministries will make arrangements with the workers’ union and management. . “It is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor to advise on what the company should and should not do, but I am here to report to the plenary as head of the committee on what these responsible ministries have. agreed to do to restore harmony and stability to the plantation.
The Acting Minister of Justice Cllr. Nyenatee Tuan said a team from the Criminal Services Division of the Liberia National Police (LNP) had been dispatched to the field and were conducting forensic investigations into the situation. He said that by giving the important and concerned elements of the government, a team of ministers was formed to come and take stock in order to be better placed to endorse everything that comes from the police.
He said that as a result of holding meetings with the family, workers’ union and management, the government is fully equipped on how their thinking can be shifted and focused.
On the issue of safety at the plantation, the acting justice minister said they had met and encouraged the Workers’ Union to do everything in their power to ensure that there was no no industrial unrest at the plantation and hope everything remains civil and law-abiding noting that all conflict ends at the table.
For her part, Agriculture Minister Madam Jennis Cooper expressed her condolences on behalf of the Agriculture family and its ministry to the bereaved family and to all LAC workers for the missing. She said LAC has been a key partner for Liberia since 1959, especially in agricultural production and productivity.
Minister Cooper said that Management has taken full responsibility for all consequences resulting from this industrial accident.
“What we as a ministry and government look forward to seeing is how quickly we can resolve the whole situation that led to such an irreparable incident and start production in a way that no longer endangers anyone. “
Speaking on behalf of the Union of Workers, the Mother Union of Workers of the LAC Region, the General Union of Agriculture and Allied Workers of Liberia (GAAWUL), General President Mr. James Geeve congratulated the government of Liberia for the timely interventions and assured the Workers’ government full cooperation to ensure that their colleague obtains a decent and peaceful burial.
He praised the efforts of the Ministry of Labor to ensure that the safety of the company’s workers is guaranteed and that safety policies are put in place to prevent a recurrence of workplace accidents and injuries in the company.
Earlier, during the meeting with the family, they had asked for a dignified burial of their loved one. They said, however, that their relative would not be buried until discussions about their demands with management were concluded and signed into a memorandum of understanding.
As part of their demands, the family requested that the deceased first son or child, disabled and freshman, be sent out of Liberia to continue his education.
Second, they want the other four children in primary school to be fully educated up to the first grade.
Third, buy two lots of land and build three well-furnished three-bedroom units for the family.
Fourth, that three family members and his wife have a job in the company.
Fifth, all other cash benefits must be paid in full to the family; and
Finally, providing food and drink to the family home during the mourning period for the upkeep of family members and visitors.
Recall that at the end of last week an employee of the LAC was killed following an industrial accident at the company’s rubber processing plant.