Firestone Liberia has denied accusation by the Firestone Agriculture Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL) that it is laying off employees since the Decent Work was passed into law by the government of Liberia.
Last week, FAWUL, in an interview with journalists in Harbel, Margibi County alleged that the management of Firestone Liberia had laid off over 300 employees due to high wages enshrined in the new labor law. The company said the fact is that less than 200retrenched at Firestone, and not 300 as claimed by FAWUL. According to Firestone, those “separated from employment” fall within the categories of retirees, resignations, terminations for cause, payoffs due to restructure, and death. The decision was not prompted by the Decent work bill as alleged by the company’s workers’ union. The management of Firestone also denied reports that it has reduced employees’ benefits including rations which include a bag of rice and salary advance. In a release, Firestone clarified that there is no relationship between the separation of any Firestone Liberia employee and the implementation of the recent Decent Work Bill. The company added that since 2011, they have been conducting analysis to better align management cost structure with the revenue generated by the operation. The release noted that it is the re-alignment of some of the company’s business component to help enhance efficiencies and reduce costs that has resulted to the restructuring of certain jobs in management operation, noting “regrettably, it is necessary to eliminate some positions.” The rubber company management said while Firestone has worked to avoid retrenching employees as long as possible, making use of attrition where possible, the current state of job loss is inevitable in Firestone. The management intoned that the actions taken now are intended to help ensure that the company continues to operate in Liberia and continue to provide employment, housing, medical care and schooling for thousands of employees and their dependents in the future. Additionally, Firestone Liberia said it is an indirect subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, Inc. and noted that Bridgestone used to purchase their tyres and there is no plan by Firestone to relinquish the company to Bridgestone as was alleged by FAWUL.