Liberia: Over 600 Former Cocopa Workers Receive Severance Salary

--- After 30 years

Over 600 former Cocopa workers are benefiting from a severance salary from the management of Nimba Rubber Inc, the company that is managing the concession now.

The former workers worked for the Cocopa Rubber Plantation until 1990, when they were forcibly retired in 1990, due to the civil war eruption.

The former workers have been staging several protests in demand for the payment of their salary after the beginning of the civil uprising nearly 30 years ago, but their demand was yet to be addressed until September 2021, when the government pressed on the Management of Nimba Rubber Incorporated to settle the arrears.

The exact amount of money owed as arrear by the government or Cocopa

Management owed is yet to be known, but the Human Resource Manager of NRI, Mr. Gondeh Newah said due to the financial constraints the management reached an agreement with the workers union to do the arrears payment in batches, where the budget of US$95,000 was set aside to be disbursed for each batch. 

“We committed ourselves to the government's request to pay the '1990' workers and we have begun the payment,” he said.

He said there are lot of bureaucracies involved in the disbursement, because it has taken over three decades and those who are benefiting were children, wives of precious workers, as well as other beneficiaries, so documents were required authenticate some of the actual workers who have died and it is only the beneficiaries who are coming.

“There are several procedures, beginning with court procedure, vetting to identify the next of kin before the money lands into the wrong person’s hand,” he said.

He added that the payment is done 60 days apart to allow the management to generate money to cover each batch.

However, the spokesperson of the beneficiaries, Mafred Saye Yeegbeh, expressed delight in the government for the payment of arrears of their deceased parents.

“The government negotiated with us to pay us according to batches and we are very grateful to this government for listening to our plights,” he said.

D. Gibrel Glay, a beneficiary, expressed some frustrations about the process, where some deductions were done beyond their expectation.

He said his father was to receive US$785 but, surprisingly, when he signed for the check, US$85 was deducted, only to be told that the deduction goes to advocacy, lawyer and other documentation, something the management is yet to respond to.

Harris Piaseh, a son of tapper, who came to receive his deceased father's arrears expressed that the paying process was too slow.

“My dissatisfaction is the process is too slow and we are from far places, so paying 33 persons per day is not good for us,” he said.

“People are happy, even some of the beneficiaries who are benefiting today were not born at the time, so receiving such a money makes them happy,” said the HR.

According to the payment scheme, those who have arrears fixed between US$1 - US$499 received cash, while those who got above US$500 received a check.