— As United Workers’ Union of Liberia Commends Gov’t intervention
The secretary general of the United Workers’ Union of Liberia (UWUL), Dave J. Seneh, has called on the management of ArcelorMittal to adhere to the terms and conditions put before them by the government regarding the welfare of its aggrieved employees.
He noted that if the AML management does not live up to the agreement, the employees will again lead another strike action, which, this time around, will be called a “wide cat” protest.
“In as much [as] we want industry harmony at the workplace, the workers can never jeopardize their own interests. But if the terms and conditions that have been decided by the CEO of AML and the government expire and nothing is done, the workers will take another action that will be a ‘wide cat’, more than ever before,” Seneh stated.
He made the remarks on Friday, May 19, on behalf of over 10,000 workers in Liberia, thanking the government for their intervention and ensuring that the working conditions of workers are addressed by AML.
Seneh emphasized that the welfare of workers should be a top priority for any company operating in Liberia. He therefore urged ArcelorMittal to provide fair wages, safe working conditions, and access to healthcare for its employees.
Recently, the workers’ union began what was considered the most anticipated ‘go-slow’ action in demand of salary increments and the settlement of salary disparity.
The aggrieved workers brought down all the mining equipment from the mine and halted all other operations at the port of Buchanan and other places where the company is operating.
The workers’ union had been demanding equal work for equal salary from the management of ArcelorMittal on many occasions, until last December, when they requested the Labor Ministry’s permission to lay down tools so as to claim AML’s attention in accordance with the decent work act.
Despite the stay order, a joint government team, comprising the Ministries of State, Labour, Mines & Energy, and the Bureau of Concessions, was dispatched on May 16 to AML’s facilities in Nimba and Grand Bassa counties to restore calm and ensure that AML’s operations in those counties are not interrupted.
However, Seneh said AML is a highly profitable multinational company that can afford fair wages in Liberia.
According to him, in recent public reports, ArcelorMittal has boasted of strong full-year financial performance in 2022, including operating income in excess of ten billion United States dollars.
“The company has engaged in share buybacks that have enabled it to return cash to shareholders. Workers in Liberia play a significant part in producing this wealth, and AML needs to engage in good-faith negotiations that address the union’s call for pay increases and an end to disparities in the job grade salaries,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, the strike was guided by Section 41 of the Decent Work Act of 2015, and every procedure was met, thus making it legal.
After an investigation by the Ministry of State, Labour, Lands, Mines, and Energy and the Bureau of Concession, the workers decided to resume work on Friday, May 19, because the management has consented to settle all salary disparities, all other economic issues agreed in the CBA and increment retroactively.