Ministry of Labor press release
The government of Liberia has ordered that the rubber processing plant of the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) remains closed until it is evaluated by independent technicians for the purpose of worker safety following the recent accident industrial.
On Saturday, August 28, 2021, a joint delegation from the Executive Branch and the Senate Labor Committee traveled to LAC to understand the true circumstances that led to the industrial accident that 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, Secretary of Labor, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, Agriculture Minister Jennis Cooper, Acting Justice Minister Nyenatee Tuan, Deputy Police Commissioner Prince Mulbah, among others.
Speaking to reporters after the one-day visit, Minister of Labor Cllr. Charles H. Gibson said: “We met and spoke with the family and shared their grief, we converted the government’s condolences. We have had discussions with the workers union, they have had their share of the story and concerns. We inspected the plant where the incident occurred and concluded with a meeting with management.
Minister Gibson said that during these meetings, delegations stressed the need for management to work with the family to ensure the peaceful and decent burial of the deceased and were advised that there are ongoing negotiations. between family and management regarding benefits.
The Minister said that the Ministry of Labor will appoint 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 this they are discussing is concluded and the death gives a decent burial and peace and tranquility remains at LAC. As Director of the Ministry’s Industrial Security Department, Mr. Author Jimmy will conduct an assessment of the company’s security requirements and policies.
“We want to make sure that by Wednesday of next week, to determine if the plant is safe enough for operations. But before then we intend to partially open it so that our farmers who wish to sell their rubber can get it sold and allow the stock of stamp rubber that the company has already processed to be brought to the port before that it deteriorates and that the buyers refuse it. We hope that by next week we will achieve these goals.
The Liberian labor minister said his ministry will continue investigations after the burial into all aspects of work at LAC.
He described what is happening at the borders of LAC around guilt, but more so, it clearly borders on negligent cooperation and as such, on the principle of superior defendant, management takes responsibility for what its employees do. . And as such, in this case, it was a day’s work, there were supervisors, technicians, cleaners and whatever happened on this site, management takes responsibility.
The Chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, Senator Willington Geevon Smith, also spoke, who described the discussion as fruitful, noting that the safety of the company’s workers was highlighted. Senator Smith said the senate is concerned about stability and harmony on the plantation and, as such, will report to the plenary on Tuesday on the situation at LAC.
On other matters regarding the operations and administration of the company with respect to the consequences of this situation, Senator Smith stated that the Department of Labor and responsible departments will conclude this matter with the union and management. workers. “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 within the plantation.
Acting Minister of Justice Cllr. Nyenatee Tuan said a team from the Criminal Services Division of the Liberia National Police (LNP) has been dispatched to the scene and is conducting forensic investigations into the situation. He said that given the importance and concern of the government, a team of ministers has been assembled to come and make an assessment in order to be in a better position to endorse everything that comes from law enforcement.
He said that following meetings with the family, the workers’ union and management, the government is fully equipped on how their thinking can be changed and focused.
On the issue of security at the plantation, the Acting Minister of Justice said that they had met and encouraged the workers’ union to do everything in their power to ensure that there would be no no industrial unrest at the plantation and hope all will remain civil and law abiding noting that all conflict ends at the table.
For her part, the Minister of Agriculture, Mrs. Jennis Cooper expressed her sympathy on behalf of the Agriculture family and her department to the bereaved family and to all BAC workers for the lost. She said LAC has been a key partner of Liberia since 1959, especially in agricultural production and productivity.
Minister Cooper stated that management has taken full responsibility for all consequences resulting from this industrial accident.
“What we are looking forward to as a ministry and government 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 Workers’ Union, the ALC Workers’ Parent Union, the General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia (GAAWUL), the General President, Mr. James Geeve, welcomed the interventions from the government of Liberia and assured the government of workers full cooperation to ensure that their colleague enjoys a decent and peaceful burial.
He praised the efforts of the Ministry of Labor to ensure that the safety of workers in the company is guaranteed and that safety policies are put in place to avoid a recurrence of work accidents and injuries in the company.
Earlier, when meeting with the family, they requested a dignified burial for their relative. They said, however, that their loved one would not be buried until discussions surrounding their management demands were concluded and signed into a memorandum of understanding (MOU).
As part of their demands, the family requested that the deceased first son or child who is disabled and a freshman student be sent outside of Liberia to continue his education.
Second, they want the other four children in primary school to be fully educated through first grade.
Third, buy two lots of land and build three units with three bedrooms each well furnished for the family.
Fourth, that three family members plus his wife be employed by the company.
Fifth, all other cash benefits must be paid in full to the family; and
Finally, provide food and drink to the family home during the bereavement period for the maintenance of family members and visitors.
Recall that at the end of last week an employee of LAC was killed following a work accident at the company’s rubber processing plant.
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