….“[Gov’t] is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the final severance payment of the US$772,425 owed to 596 former workers of the ‘Liberia Company,” the Ministry of Labour said.
President George Weah's administration has settled the severance pay for hundreds of former Cocopa Rubber Plantation workers who became jobless at the onset of the country's 14-year civil war, which began in 1990.
The payments, totaling US$772,425, were disbursed to approximately 596 former employees of the company after many years of unsuccessful attempts to have successive Liberian governments address their plight.
The Weah administration, which had been making payments in installments as a result of a political settlement reach in 2022, announced yesterday that it has successfully completed the final payment of the workers' severance pay.
"The government is pleased to announce the successful conclusion of the final severance payment of US$772,425 owed to 596 former workers of the 'Liberia Company (Cocopa Rubber Plantation)' who served prior to the Liberian civil war in 1990," a release from the Ministry of Labour stated.
"These diligent former employees first approached the Government of Liberia in 1996 with a claim of US$772,425 as their rightful severance benefits owed to them by the 'Liberia Company.' Unfortunately, their efforts during the interim government did not yield fruitful results, but they remained hopeful that conditions would improve after the civil conflict."
At the end of the war, the workers engaged the administration of former President Sirleaf and even resorted to protests and legal actions to have the government pay their severance benefits.
However, their actions bore fruit in 2021, forcing the Weah government, after three years in power, to come to the negotiating table and agree to pay the original severance pay of US$772,425.
The first payment of US$386,212, disbursed in tranches beginning in July 2022, marked the end of months of painstaking negotiations in which the former workers emerged victorious.
"The outcome of these negotiations reflects the dedication of both parties to finding an equitable solution, ultimately resulting in a mutually beneficial agreement in 2022. The former workers graciously accepted a settlement of US$386,212 as the first payment of their severance benefits, with disbursements commencing in July 2022.
"This significant accomplishment stands as a testament to the Government of Liberia's commitment to the well-being of its citizens and the importance of addressing past grievances. The Ministry of Labour will continue to play a pivotal role in ensuring the equitable treatment of workers and addressing labor-related issues across the nation," the Ministry explained.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the former workers, represented by Chairman George B. Kruah, Marfred Yeegbeh, Spokesman, and Amos Dolo, Secretary-General, have expressed their appreciation to the government for bringing one of the country's long-running severance pay sagas to a close.