Aggrieved ArcelorMittal workers who staged a protest on Friday, July 20, for bad labor practice yesterday ended their action by returning to work, following frantic efforts by Nimba County leadership.
The four day strike action brought operations at the concession community in the old mining town of Yekepa to a grinding halt. The situation nearly turned violent on July 23, when some of the protesters threatened to go on the rampage.
One of the aggrieved workers said they abandoned their strike following Representative Joseph Sonwabi’s (District #3) intervention via a telephone call to them to quit the strike action and return to work.
They workers had earlier refused to listen to Nimba County Inspector Reginald Mehn, who they felt could not address their plights.
Late Monday evening, Nimba County Superintendent Dorr Cooper said the workers have agreed to resume work, while the authority looks into their complaint.
Though he did give any time table as to when the workers concerns will be addressed, he assured them that some of the key concerns will be taken care of, but did not elaborate further.
According to some of the aggrieved mine workers, the management does not care to address their plights, rather continue to suppress them whenever they tried to voice out concerns.
The workers want management to remove the “Zero Week” policy in their work time, improve the feeding aspect at work, provide good housing facility and good healthcare.
For the Zero Week, they complained that in some weeks, they would work for 12 hours, including overtime, but the management would only pay them for the normal eight working hours, excluding their overtime.
The workers’ decision to resume work also came against the backdrop of the company management’s appeal to them on Monday to end their action and return to work while their leadership engage in dialogue to find an amicable solution to their concerns of “bad labor practices.”
In a press statement, the company admitted to being grossly affected by the ongoing strike action, which the employees instituted in the company’s load and haul department in direct opposition to the agreed position of their union representatives recently.
The company described the strike as illegal, but said it is still willing to go into negotiations with the aggrieved employees and sort things out peacefully.
“ArcelorMittal Liberia is committed to communicating openly with its employees. Unfortunately, in this instance, no warning of the strike was given, and due to the huge operational costs of a strike, we are urging our workers to go back to work while we continue discussions with them on the issues that are important, including wage levels, working hours, children’s education and health,” the company said in a statement.