Arcelor Mittal, Workers’ Union Sign CBA

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Global steel giant ArcelorMittal, which is mining the Mount Nimba Concession, on February 24, 2017, reached a Collective Bargaining Agreement with the United Workers Union of Liberia in the Port City of Buchanan.

According to a press release issued by ArcelorMittal Liberia, the CBA will govern all aspects of the company and its relationship with employees.

Some of the points highlighted in the CBA, according to the release, include the rehiring of some redundant workers, starting in the third quarter of 2017; the comprehensive job mapping to adjust salaries where they are inconsistent with the position; and the reinstatement of some benefits reduced to save jobs during the redundancies, beginning July 2017.

Others include the continuation of a joint health and safety committee; the monthly engagement between the Workers’ Union and management; and the peace obligation binding the management and union to follow requisite procedures, ensuring that all disputes are resolved internally at the lowest levels.

Signing on behalf of ArcelorMittal Liberia was the Chief Executive Officer, Michel Prive, while Oldpa Zogbay signed for the Workers’ Union of ArcelorMittal Liberia.

CEO Prive, who spoke on the topic, “Resilience of the workforce during Ebola and challenging market conditions,” said, “the main element in my opinion is to recognize the contribution of our employees in this very difficult period.”

Lauding the CBA, he said, “The CBA negotiation provides an opportunity for dialogue with our union towards improving mutual understanding on issues.”

Speaking on behalf of the United Workers’ Union of Liberia, an umbrella organization of workers’ unions, Mr. David Sackoh said the negotiation ended in a win-win situation, despite taking place under tedious circumstances that led to management’s constraints resulting from the low price of iron ore, the depletion of the high quality ore in Tokadeh and transferring to Mount Gangra.

Assistant Labor Minister Emmett Crayton called the just signed CBA the best document that he has ever seen.

He urged the management and the union to make certain that the document is not kept on the shelf, but is fully implemented.

Mr. Crayton also used the opportunity to encourage ArcelorMittal to continue with its localization plans for Liberian employees, and bring in experts ready and willing to transfer knowledge.

Meanwhile, the President of the Workers’ Union, Oldpa Zogbay, praised the CEO and the management of ArcelorMittal and called on the workers to continue to cooperate with the management towards strengthening the organization, the release said.

“I am proud of Arcelor Mittal Liberia’s leadership under Michel Prive… which I first doubted when he arrived in Liberia. Now I find him a smart leader and one who is willing to bring Mittal back to its original position,” the release quoted Zogbay as saying.

“There was no form of harshness or intimidation throughout the negotiation and signing process of the CBA,” the Union President added, according to the release.

On January 9, 2017, operations at the ArcelorMittal Liberiaconcession site came to a standstill, owing to a go-slow by workers demanding better wages, benefits and improved living conditions.

The aggrieved workers complained that since 2014 all their benefits including school benefits for five children, overtime, bonuses, on-job feeding, among other concerns, were yet to be restored.

But, with this latest CBA, workers say they hope to see the CBA take immediate effect and respected by management.

“Since the signing of the CBA in Buchannan, it is yet to be explained to us. But what we are hearing is encouraging and we hope that it takes immediate effect and would be highly respected,” said one of the mine workers, who did not want to be named.

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