HARBEL, Margibi – Factory workers in Firestone have laid down their tools in demand of bonuses. The workers are demanding 11 months of bonuses for producing 34.1 tons of rubber.
The workers said management has failed to pay them their bonuses after reaching the required scale.
Speaking to The Bush Chicken in Harbel, Moses R. Butler, factory chairman, said the management of Firestone Liberia has denied production workers their bonuses for the last eleven months. He said since May 2016, management has failed to live up to its commitment to workers.
Butler said after a series of ignored complaints to the leadership of the Firestone Agriculture Workers Union and the management of Firestone, the workers were left with no alternative but to quietly stay home.
He named Quality Control, Black Rubber, and Production as some of the departments that are currently shut down. He confirmed that the workers have resolved not to go to work unless they receive their bonuses.
Butler said it was frustrating to have learned from management that they cannot get bonuses because they did not reach the ceiling to be qualified.
According to Butler, Nikita Jackson, Firestone’s Black Rubber manager, told workers that since the move to the company’s new plant, the production requirement increased due to the swiftness of the new machines.
Management confirmed to The Bush Chicken that the workers are now required to produce 41.6 tons of rubber per shift in order to trigger bonuses.
Meanwhile, Harris Kerkula, president of the workers union, accused the management of Firestone for breaching the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the company and the union by changing the production threshold without prior notice to factory workers and the leadership.
Kerkula said since the workers were not notified, they should not be denied their bonuses. “The workers were never under pressure to reach management expectation for the fact they were unaware,” Kerkula added.
Emmett Crayton, deputy minister of labor for trade union affairs, blamed the management of Firestone for not keeping the workers updated on the change that directly affects them.
Crayton called on factory workers through their representative to resume work while the leaders constructively engage management. He said staying away from job will impede the operations of the company, a decision he thinks will greatly affect workers.
Featured photo courtesy of Flickr’s jbdodane