Liberia: Lebanese Company Ignores Gov’t Mandates to Reinstate Dismiss Employees

The company workers claim that the corporation has treated them unfairly in terms of wages as well as feeling reluctant to hire them.

An order from the Ministry of Labor for the Mano Manufacturing Company (MANCO), to reinstate employees who were dismissed “illegally” by the company has been ignored, according to the company workers.

On June 14, the Minister of Labor, Cllr. Charles Gibson ordered the bleach and chemicals company to immediately “reinstate all dismissed employees who had served as contractors for over a period of one year.”

Gibson also requested the company, which is a family-owned Lebanese company spanning three generations, to halt the deduction of all employees’ salaries for remittance. The ignoring of these orders, according to the company workers, forced them to initiate another strike action.

The workers claim that the corporation has treated them unfairly in terms of wages as well as feeling reluctant to hire them —  bragging that ​government cannot do anything since officials live in their pockets.

"We are suffering in this place and the management doesn’t even care for our wellbeing. This is our country and we must be protected from these foreigners,” the company workers said while protesting the MANCO action yesterday at its Caldwell factory. This company is carrying on bad labor practices." 

“The managers here are saying there is nothing the government can do to them because the government lives in their pockets, so our issues will never get redressed. And we have been underpaid and cannot even afford to build a house on what we earn monthly.” 

During their June 15 protest action, MANCO's managing director allegedly slapped a female worker who had gone to him to make inquiries about her benefits,” the workers say,

The inquiry, according to the workers, came as a result of the company's ongoing sacking spree, which was initiated as a result of their complaints to the Ministry of Labor on grounds that MANCO was engaged in bad labor practices and abrupt layoffs.

MANCO is the vision of Raef Fadel, who founded the Liberia Bleach & Chemicals Company in 1969 and began producing CLORA™ Super Bleach. The company was renamed in 1981 and began adding other products to its roster, according to information on its website. The company claims to have over 200 Liberians employed and now served as the country's largest manufacturer of household health and cleaning products in Liberia. The company is also the owner of the Mano Palm Oil Industries Inc. (MPOI), an off-shoot entity, according to information on the website. 

MPOI  now owned the former Sime Darby plantation Grand Cape Mount and Bomi Counties and was granted a 15-year tax break to construct, develop and operate a vegetable oil refinery in the country by the House of Representatives.

According to the ratified agreement, GST and Excise Tax on the company will kick in from the seventh and twelfth years of the agreement at the rate of 50% — collected on capital equipment, spare parts, raw materials, and consumables.

MANCO's overall investment is valued at US$25 million and is expected to create an undisclosed amount of jobs for Liberians, particularly in the project area of Grand Cape Mount County.

Meanwhile, protesting workers are again calling on the Ministry of Labor to intervene in the situation and enforce its mandate.

The Ministry, as part of its member, also requested the company to allow its workers to establish a mother union, to serve as a bargaining agent; but in the meantime, an interim workplace leadership should be set up within two weeks to steer the affairs while a  Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). He stressed the need for the immediate provision of safety gear to employees as a means of protecting them against work-related injuries.

Meanwhile, the company spokesperson promised to release an official statement today.