The management of ArcelorMittal Liberia has appealed to its striking workers 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 yesterday, 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 though described the strike as illegal; the management 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 yesterday.
“In addition, the company is due to start negotiating a collective labor agreement in a month’s time so all these issues would be discussed in detail during that process,” the company’s statement said.
The strike action became necessary when workers assigned at Mounts Gangra and Torkadeh accused the company’s management of neglecting its responsibilities and not engaging in fair labor practices.
The demands of the aggrieved mine workers, particularly from the load and haul department, includes removal of the “Zero Week” in their work schedule; provisions of better housing and healthcare facilities and an increase day food stipends.
“They are giving US$0.50 per day as lunch, but we will not receive the money in some cases, and for three months at a time. If you are unfortunate to begin work from Wednesday, then you fall in the Zero Week, meaning the time that the employee worked for will not be marked,” said another worker.
Working conditions, according to the employees, are not favorable, because there are no good housing facilities and no drugs for the workers at the hospital.
ArcelorMittal is the world’s leading steel and mining company, with a presence in 60 countries and an industrial footprint in 18 countries. The company recorded a revenue in 2017 of $68.7 billion crude steel production of 93.1 million metric tons, while iron ore production reached 57.4 million metric tons.
In a related development, a retired worker of the former Liberian American Swedish Mining Company(LAMCO) has commended the workers of Arcellor Mittal for their decision to quietly stay away from work rather than engage in open confrontational protest action.
Mr. Joseph Flomo, a retired driver, said the stay home action completely nullified the presence of armed Police who he said would have invariably resorted to strong arm tactics including the use of live ammunition to fire on workers. But the stay home action, he said, took all by surprise and is proving to be a more successful form of engagement with Management who now have no option but to engage the workers in dialogue.