Following two days of go-slow action, workers of the steel giant ArcelorMittal have resumed work at the mining site in Yekepa, Nimba County.
An aggrieved worker told this paper via mobile phone that the company has committed itself to address their demands by March 31.
“After several hours of discussions, we finally agreed to return to work, while the negotiation continues,” said another worker.
“Our demands,” the workers said, “are already in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), so they told us to wait until it is finalized by March ending.”
On Monday, January 9, the ArcelorMittal workforce stopped operations at the concession site demanding better wages, benefits and improved living conditions.
The aggrieved workers said the company decreased their salaries and benefits during the fall in the price of iron ore last year, but since the improvement in the prices on the world market, the company is yet to reinstate what was subtracted from their wages and benefits.
They also complained that since 2014, all their benefits, including school benefits for five children, overtime bonus, job site feeding, have been streamlined.
“The same job we are doing in Liberia is the same mining going on in Australia and everywhere Mittal has their company operating; those workers in other countries receive their just benefits,” the workers had said.
The company’s Communications Manager, Ms. Hesta Baker Pearson, confirmed the resumption of work by the offended workers and also added that most of what the workers had requested was already in the CBA and negotiation is ongoing to finalize the matter.
She said every single year, the company and workers’ union discuss issues regarding benefits, salary increments and other matters that would improve the working condition, but added that it appeared that many of the workers were not informed of this development.
The Daily Observer contacted the workers’ union president Cooper Zogbay, but he refused to comment, saying the management does not allow any worker to speak to the press.
ArcelorMittal is yet to bring sanity to the entire Yekepa Community, since its management took over the Mount Nimba concession in 2005, leaving most of the area in ruins, including the lack of safe drinking water and limited healthcare, they claim.