Senator Thomas S. Grupee of Nimba County has called on the workers of the Cocopa Plantation to end their strike action and resume work as the government is working on measures to pay their arrears and subsequently carry out the payoff.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with reporters on Monday, March 7, he said presently the government has instructed the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) to give the present management a waiver to enable it to take a loan to settle whatsoever obligations it has with the workers.
He said the problem in Cocopa could have been settled earlier but the price of rubber on the World Market is the key factor that has undermined the rubber industry worldwide.
Senator Grupee said the Nimba Legislative Caucus is working tirelessly to ensure that Cocopa remains operational in order to avoid future hardship resulting from job losses.
“If we do not do what it takes for this particular plantation to remain operational, it will be a real hardship on our people,” he warned.
He explained that the county caucus has been engaging the Cocopa management led by Harrison Karnwea to see to it that the problem is resolved. He however acknowledged that the drop in the price of rubber does not allow an investor to lend to the company.
He said some of the problems include the liability on Cocopa which is more than its assets making the situation difficult for the present management.
“As we speak,” he said, “the plantation has over 1000 workers, both essential and non-essential staffs, and the price of rubber does not allow the company to retain all of these workers. But you cannot lay off without paying so it makes it a little bit difficult that is why is has taken so long.”
However, US$ 1.5 million has been approved by the government to settle the problem in Cocopa, Senator Grupee disclosed.
But, he added that it “will take some days before beginning the process of paying the workers and subsequently paying them off.”