Company responds to “inflammatory media reports”
The management of Firestone Liberia Inc. (Firestone Liberia) says it is deeply concerned about “recent false and inflammatory media reports” regarding the company’s Liberian leadership and labor practices.
In a statement released Thursday, January 31, 2019, Firestone Liberia said “remarks implying that the company’s Liberian managers are responsible for unspecified ‘bad labor practices’ illustrate a very misinformed perspective of Firestone Liberia’s management team, and our managers’ ongoing efforts to maintain the job security and improve the general welfare of our more than 6,000 employees plus their dependents.”
Firestone Liberia, the country’s largest private employer and partner to Liberia for 93 years, employs approximately six thousand (6,000) direct employees, of which more than 99.7 percent are Liberian citizens, the statement said. “The management of Firestone Liberia, and its parent company, Bridgestone Americas, hold its Liberian leadership in the highest regard, and have the utmost confidence in their abilities and competency to perform their duties. Firestone Liberia is very proud of its practice of hiring and promoting Liberians up to the highest levels of leadership, where they sit at the table with other company executives and parent company management to shape the company and help lead its direction.”
Also, regarding ongoing media reports concerning certain employees who were alleged to have been unfairly dismissed from the company, Firestone Liberia asserts that the company is operating fully within the laws of Liberia, including the country’s Decent Work Act and with great sensitivity to the rights of all its employees.
“Despite the company’s significant efforts to find an acceptable solution and compromise to the situation where the employees in question refused to show up for work, a resolution could not be found, and they were terminated, per company policy, for abandoning their jobs,” the company said.
The management of Firestone Liberia says it “does not reach decisions such as the termination of employees without considerable thought.” Throughout the decision-making process, management said it informed the employees in question, their union representatives and the Ministry of Labour, that their continued absenteeism would constitute the abandonment of their jobs, and subject them to dismissal as provided by law.
“Instead of heeding these warnings,” Firestone Liberia explained, “these two employees refused to return to work, thereby choosing to abandon their jobs while other similarly situated employees returned to work and were granted requested excused time off to perform their union related activities. The return of these two dismissed employees to the employ of Firestone Liberia would be unfair to all others who have faithfully reported for work and is thus not an option being considered by management, and this position has been clearly communicated.”
The management of Firestone Liberia says it remains committed to upholding the rule of law, to fair dealing with all employees, and to working in partnership with the government and people of Liberia to enhance the employment sector in the country.