Dismissed ArcelorMittal Mine Workers Cry for Justice

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ArcelorMittal Liberia mine workers post for picture during what they term as "Go - slow" action in July

About 25 dismissed mine workers of ArcelorMittal are calling on the government to intervene, claiming their dismissals were illegal and infringed on their civil liberties of freedom of expression.

The dismissed workers told the Daily Observer that the management of ArcelorMittal terminated their employment status due to a go-slow action they took in July this year against some bad labor practices of the company.

A spokesman of the dismissed workers, Melvin Smith, said the management’s action was repressive and intended to keep them from enjoying their civil liberties of freedom of speech and expression.

He said in 2016, the management and the National Workers Union entered an agreement to settle most of their issues raised against the company, including “Leave Allowance,” which the company has refused to honor or had been delaying its adhere to the agreement.

He said the National Workers Union wrote Mittal, giving the company an ultimatum up to July 7, 2018, to address the workers’ plight.

Mr. Smith explained that they waited up to July 20, 2018, before laying down their tools in demand for the leave allowance, the cancellation of Zero Week, and for better living condition, among others.

He added that the strike action drew the government’s attention, and they were invited to Monrovia by officials of the Ministry of Labor for negotiations; but Mittal was still adamant abd unprepared to address their plight, thus stoking anger among the workers which prompted them to lay down their tools again.

“We the leaders were asked to return to Nimba, calm the go-slow action and wait for the Labor Ministry’s response,” he said. “Unfortunately, when we got to Nimba, we met suspension letters from the management, and these suspension letters turned into dismissal today,” he said.

The workers said they took an appeal to the Appeal Committee of the company, but the man who offered the dismissal letters came and presided over the hearing, refusing to listen to their side.

“We were very peaceful in our action, we only parked the vehicles and waited to hear from government”.

“Those of us who were asked to represent the workers in Monrovia were all dismissed,” said Daniel Kamara, 46, and a father of seven. “The company is hesitant to give our pay for the years we worked for.”

On July 20, 2018, normal mining activities in Yekepa, Nimba County, came to a standstill after mine workers at Mount Gangra and Mount Torkadeh staged a strike action in demand for good labor practices.

The aggrieved mine workers accused the management of not addressing their plight, rather continuing to suppress or intimidate them.

The workers demanded the removal of what is termed as “zero week.” They want improved feeding at work, better housing facilities and good health care.

For the “zero week,” they complained that in some weeks they would work for 12 hours and would not get their wages and that there was also no over time.

They also said the company promised to give each person US$0.50 a day for lunch, but the money promised has not been disbursed for the past three months.

“If you are unfortunate to begin work from Wednesday, then you will fall in the zero week, meaning, you will not be marked for that week,” said one of the aggrieved workers at the time of the strike.

As soon as the go-slow action ended in July, the leader of the workers went missing. It was later found out that he had been somewhere in Monrovia.

One of the workers is refusing to return to work, if the company reinstates him, because he fears that he is being targeted by the management.

“I am only advocating for my back pay and other benefits, and I don’t want to go back, because I will be targeted by the company and dismissed falsely,” said Randolph Wilson, a truck operator.

When contacted, the company’s Communication Manager Ms. Amanda Hills, via email confirmed the dismissals, saying the workers were dismissed for the illegal strike action they carried out in July.

Meanwhile, the dismissed workers are calling on the national government to intervene so that they can be reinstated, because they believe their dismissal was done illegally and intended to silence them from speaking about their rights.

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is a clever attempt by Mittal Steel to intimidate workers and abrogate their ability to negotiate and demand for future increase in wages, benefits and good working conditions in accordance with international good practices and the Labor Laws of Liberia. I urge the Assistant Minister of Labor for Trade Union Affairs, Hon. Tokpah Porte to immediately intervene and remind Mitaal Steel of their contractual agreements with the Government of Liberia and the Worker’s right to freedom of expression and representation. This intimidation tactics must not be allowed to stand against these brave and courageous leaders; otherwise, it will be used by other investors in Liberia to disrespect and infringed upon the legal rights Liberians on their own soil.

  2. ArcelorMittal must be joking! If they think 21st Century Liberia under a PRO-POOR AGENDA GOVERNMENT, LEGISLATURE, OR EVEN THE JUDICIARY shall condone such lawlessness and supression against workers as was done in the past, they are pitifully mistaken!

    There is nowhere in the world any Company dare treat workers in such manner only because the workers have stood up for their rights.

    Where are those calling themselves human rights lawyers who would hail a judge for sitting as the judge on a poor 90 years old widow´s land case of which the very judge was the buyer of the land in dispute?

    Where are those so called human rights institutions making noise all over the Place about tenureship?

  3. it has been five months since the dismissal, where is national government? what’s their stance on the matter? Moses Kollie and Labor Ministry, please come in quickly.

  4. THE BIG HEAVY HANDS
    Fellow Liberians, this is the power of Foreign Monopoly Capitals I m always writing about. Just in case other Liberians been wondering what that phrase meant, this is it. Africa Problem is not ‘dictators’, as is always shown on the international media. Our problem are those huge conglomerates cooperation that are controlling our natural resources. They have all our policy makers in their pockets, and keep strangle hold on their decisions. Look around the world and see where they are not doing business, the international press will keep barking and calling that government or leadership human right abuser. These companies, as I have mentioned in the past, are more powerful than African States. They descent on Sub-Saharan African and Latin America rich natural resources, get involved in the political maneuvering of leaderships and restoring of brutal regimes that will clamp down on any dissenting voice.

    When Christopher Columbus missed his way around the Americas and landed in Haiti, he took back with him to Spain, Gold, Diamond and other Natural resources that were given to him , as gifts by the Carib Indians. Columbus will give the ‘gifts’ to the Royal Court of Spain. Mr. Columbus return trip will mark the beginning of multi national companies taken over of natural resources around the globe at the plight of those that own said resources.

    I hold no ill way against any investors who aims and objectives are to make profits. I m speaking to our people, that we have to look at other how they transformed themselves from peasant, destitution, to being ‘people’ in their own country. Our educational systems are in a mess. We are receiving education to mold us to serve others. We should be receiving education for establishing a means of production. With production, economic empowerment follows. Some people say I should only write about Science, Math and Medicine, because those are the subject I m studying. I tell them, I do not have a segregated Conscious. Meaning, my conscious does not only look at the abstract of Science and math, it also consider the universal right of another person.

    I attended Government schools in Liberia, my education was 100 % funded by tax payers money. I owed every Liberians from all walks of life, millions. It is my ardent hope that I complete my studies pretty soon and made my contributions toward Liberia.

    Haven seen the photo of these Liberians in front of these ArceloMittal vehicles, it is very sad to swallow. I hope the Minister of Labor should take the necessary steps to have these poor Liberians given back their jobs.
    We need a total Nationalization of some private sectors to massively fund education of productive ideas and technological minds. Mr. Lakshmin Mittals, the owner and CEO of ArcelorMittal Steel, Luxembourg, should act accordingly. It will not be find if any multinational company operating in Rajasthan, India treat any Indian that way. His daughter just got marry, some of the guests were Hilary Clinton, Beyonce Knowles, and other big names millionaires and billionaires. My poor black brother are just asking for a LITTLE of that huge stacks.
    From Sydney, with Love for all Liberians

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