Following a tragic death
The government of Liberia has ordered the Liberia Agricultural Company (LAC) rubber processing plant to remain closed until all safety measures in place are assessed by independent technicians to ensure worker safety.
The action follows a recent industrial accident which resulted in the death of an employee.
It also comes after a joint delegation from the Executive and the Senate Labor Committee visited LAC to understand the real circumstances that led to the industrial accident that led to the death of the late Emmanuel Joe, a company employee on Saturday August 28. 2021.
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 met and discussed with the family and shared their grief, we converted the condolences of the government. We had discussions with the workers’ union, they held their share of the story and of concerns. We inspected the plant where the incident took place 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 deceased and were informed that there is a negotiation underway. between 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 both parties come to a successful decision that the death will result in a decent burial and peace and quiet remain at LAC.
He further explained that the director of the industrial security department of the ministry, 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 that time, we intend to partially open it so that our farmers who wish to sell their rubber can sell it and authorize the rubber buffer stock the company has already processed to bring it to port before it deteriorates and buyers turn it down. We hope 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 felt that the accident at LAC clearly borders on neglect of cooperation and that as such, according to the superior defendant principle, management takes responsibility for what its workers do. 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.
Senate Labor Committee Chairman Sen. Willington Geevon Smith, who called the discussion fruitful, noting that the safety of the company’s workers has been emphasized, said the Senate was concerned about the stability and harmony in the plantation and, as such, will report to the 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. 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 given the importance and concern of the government, a team of ministers was assembled to come and do an assessment 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 changed and focused.
Regarding the issue of safety on the plantation, the acting Minister of Justice noted that they have come together and encouraged the Workers’ Union to do everything in their power to ensure that they do not There is no social unrest in the plantation and hopes that all will remain civilians and obey the law 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 all LAC workers for the loss. 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 all the situations that led to such an irreparable incident and start production in a way that no longer puts anyone at risk. “
Speaking on behalf of the Union of Workers, Mother Union of LAC Workers, General Union of Agriculture and Allied Workers of Liberia (GAAWUL), General Chairman 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.
Among other things, the family demands that the first son or deceased child who is disabled and a first year student be sent outside Liberia to continue their education, while his other siblings currently in primary schools are fully educated, two plots of land to be purchased with the construction of three units of three bedrooms each well furnished for the family.
The family is also demanding that three family members and the deceased wife be offered employment by the company, including cash benefits.
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.