Aggrieved Firestone Workers Threaten Legal Action Against Union Leadership


Monrovia – Concerned members of the Firestone Agricultural Workers’ Union (FAWUL) have threatened to take legal action against the leadership of the union for violating the union constitution.

Report by Augustine T. Tweh, [email protected]

The aggrieved workers, under the banner ‘due payers’, are alleging that the leadership is reneging on its constitutional mandate to hold election although their three-year tenure has elapsed.

They claim the current leadership of FAWUL headed by Harris Kerkula is receiving backing from the Ministry of Labor and the Agricultural Agro-Processing and Industrial Workers’ Union (AAIWUL) to continue its illegal action.

The leadership is giving non-existent statutory reasons claiming that the new labor law (Decent Work Act of 2015) only recognizes one union which is the AAIWUL.

Edwin Ngafua, head of the aggrieved workers, said the union president (Kerkula) was elected under FAWUL constitution to steer the affairs of the institution for three years but has refused to abide by the laws of the union and is now shifting the institution “rights and responsibilities” to AAIWUL.

Ngafua said the concern workers have made several attempts to raise alarm about the ongoing violation.

“After being fully made aware of the unlawful act by Mr. Kerkula and collaborators, we wrote a number of communications to national authorities to express our disapproval of Mr. Kerkula and company conduct and to ask that they are stopped from pursuing said unlawful course of action,” he said.

At the same time, Ngafua expressed dismay in the Ministry of Labor for wrongly handling the workers’ concern over the conduct of an election.

“The action of the ministry does not contribute to security, peace, prosperity, and development of workers at the Firestone, he said; adding that the “rights of the poor and struggling Liberian workers are part and parcel of the Pro-Poor Agenda”.

“Under the law, where a complaint is filed under sub-section9.1 or sub-section 37.6 of the Decent Work Act, the Ministry of Labor has only two ways to proceed: Either via conciliation (37.6[C]) or via a hearing under chapter 9.

“Additionally, the Ministry of Labor must decide to hear the matter within 30 days (9.2{d]) and must communicate said the decision to the complaining parties within 45 days, if the ministry chooses not to take any action,” he said.

When contacted, Mr. Kerkula said prior to the end of his tenure, the Decent Work Act of 2015 came into force, at which time the Ministry mandated him to cease all election process until the union registers with an umbrella union.

Responding on behalf of the Labor Minister, Deputy Minister for Manpower Planning and Human Resource Development, Atty. Phil Tarpeh Dixon said the ministry has written the management of Firestone for the conduct of the election within the period of 90 days.