Over bad labor practices
Normal mining activities in Yekepa, Nimba County have come to a standstill for the past few days, after mine workers assigned at Mounts Gangra and Torkadeh staged a strike action in demand of fair labor practices.
According to some of the aggrieved workers, ArcelorMittal Liberia management does not care to address their plight but, rather continue to suppress them, while they continue working.
The aggrieved workers are henceforth demanding the removal of the “Zero Week” in their work schedule; that the company improve their feeding aspect while at work; as well as provide good housing facilities and healthcare for they and their dependents.
For the “Zero Week,” the workers complained that in some weeks, they will work for 12 hours, but the management will record only 8 hours with no overtime.
“They are giving US$0.50 per day as lunch, but we will not receive the money in some cases, for three months at a time,” said one of the caterpillar operators, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“If you are unfortunate to begin work from Wednesday, then you fall in the Zero Week, meaning time what the employee worked for will not be marked,” said another worker.
“Working conditions are not favorable here, no good housing facilities and no drugs for the workers at the hospital,” they said.
Up to yesterday, the mine workers’ strike action was obstructing every activity of the company, because since Friday, movement of locomotives have stopped altogether, something over which residents along the rail have expressed concern.
When contacted, an ArcelorMittal Liberia official declined to comment, saying that “the situation is fluid.” The official said the company would have an official response by today, July 23.
The workers also claimed that any driver or operator involved in accident is fired by the management without any hesitation or warning, not even taking into consideration whether the driver is wounded or not.
They said conditions became bad when an Indian expatriate, only identified as Soshee, took assignment at the mine as Mining Superintendent, “because it was Soshee who introduced the Zero Week.”
According to information, the workers anger rose when another manager, identified as Christo was forced to resign, because of his advocacy to improve working conditions.
“The few days Christo spent with us, was very fine and we saw lot of changes coming, but he resigned suddenly because of pressure from the management,” one of the aggrieved employees said.
However, Nimba County Superintendent Dorr Cooper, confirmed the incident, and has therefore dispatched a team headed by the county inspector Reginald Mehn. However, their intervention on Sunday, July 22, did not yield fruit because the team failed to address the workers plight.