GVL’s Chemicals Causing ‘Miscarriages among Women’ in Grand Kru County?

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— Rep. Barway Complains to House of Representatives, and to Summon GVL CEO

At least 10 female workers of Golden Veroleum Liberia (GVL) in Grand Kru County have suffered ‘miscarriages’ because of chemical exposure amid GVL’s failure to provide the necessary Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), Grand Kru County District #1 Representative Nathaniel Barway, Sr., has complained to the Plenary of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Barway said the victims are from Garraway, Weadebo and Trembo Sections.

A medical doctor, assigned at John F. Kennedy Hospital, who requested not to be named, told the Daily Observer yesterday via mobile, that there are obvious surgical abortion methods and medical abortion methods, but not many have heard of chemical abortion.

“A chemical abortion is nothing more than a non-surgical abortion method wherein the pregnancy is terminated by introducing medication or chemicals or because of chemical exposure into the system that prevent the pregnancy from progressing,” the medical doctor said.

Rep. Barway, who is also the House’s co-chairman on Internal Affairs, stressed that besides the chemical fertilizer exposure, the GVL is in bad labor practices and has since resulted to mass wrongful dismissals, and a death of an excavator driver, popularly known as ‘Albert.’

According to sources, Albert happens to be a relative of Rep. Barway.

In his communication, which was read on Thursday, March 7, the 17th day sitting, Rep. Barway urged Speaker Bhofal Chambers and his colleagues to summon the General Manager of GVL, to answer why he should not be held responsible for the unfair labor treatment of employees of his company, as well as for the contradictions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the communities in Grand Kru County District #1 and GVL.

Unfair Labor Treatments

“Here are few counts as examples of the unfair labor practices against its employees: Daniel Cooper, a truck driver for GVL who was transporting oil palm from Grand Kru to their factory in Sinoe got in an accident. As per traffic regulation of Liberia, when an accident occurs, a traffic officer/LNP has to be informed and invited to investigate the issue but this was not done at all, and the driver was dismissed without any compensation when the truck was not damaged and is in use up to present. Another employee, Emmanuel Sackor, whose brother was caught stealing palm at night and was taken to court and found guilty but GVL management transferred the crime to Emmanuel Sackor who was not part of the theft. Yet he was dismissed by GVL,” Rep. Barway said.

He added: “Another employee, Peter Wesseh, a security officer of GVL and tractor operator, were asked to transport few mattresses from Grand Kru to Sinoe highway when GVL was carrying on road maintenance between Grand Kru and Sinoe Counties. While taking mattresses back to GVL’s office in Grand Kru after the road maintenance work, two of the mattresses dropped unknown to them (the transporters) and they could not locate them. The management of GVL asked the two employees to pay for the mattresses with immediate effect, but Peter Wesseh did not have cash (money) on hand to pay and for that he was dismissed by GVL, but the tractor driver who had money to pay, is still working.”

‘Contradictions’ in MOU

The Grand Kru County lawmaker further said according to the MOU between employees/citizens in District #1, Grand Kru County and GVL, employment for community citizens is done with the ratio of 6 hectares to one employment. This means that when any employee who is employed under such arrangement is not able to continue the work, he/she should be replaced by any other person recommended by the community, but GVL disagrees to such replacement.

“GVL agrees according to appendix B-1 to issue 50lb bag of clean rice to each employee as motivation per month. But unfortunately, outside of the MOU, GVL again has attached an unfair condition (an employee must work up to 23 working days before qualifying or rice. This condition is not in line with the fair labor practice of Liberia. We tried to plead for at least 18 working days, but GVL failed to do so,” Rep.  Barway wrote.

“According to Appendix C-5, GVL agrees to build and improve roads and bridges. The communities and employees have been pleading for concrete bridges, but GVL fails to listen.”

Joint Committee Investigation

Following the reading of the communication and illustration from Rep. Barway, The House of Representatives Thursday resolved to mandate a Joint Committee on Judiciary, Internal Affairs and Labor to commence investigation into allegations of the ‘Chemical Miscarriages’ and ‘Bad Labor Practices’ and report within two weeks.

The decision was based upon a motion proffered by Lofa County District #1 Representative Francis S. Nyumalin, Sr.

In a rather brief response, GVL said it is “greatly disturbed by the allegations” made by Representative Barway. “The company operates in compliance with Liberian laws and for the safety of our employees and the communities within which we are based. The company refutes the allegations and will be preparing a full response to the claims made,” a statement submitted by Randall P. Kaybee, corporate communications coordinator, said.

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