Aggrieved Redundant Employees Threaten Protest Against ArcelolMittal
Yekepa, Nimba County – More than 800 redundant employees of ArcelorMittal have issued an open threat in which they gave the steel giant a two-day ultimatum to re-instate them to their various operational areas.
Report By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba County Contributor
The aggrieved former employees reached their decision Tuesday, November 12, in Sanniquellie, Nimba County after the company didn’t show out for a meeting planned and called by the county’s administration, headed by Superintendent David Dorr Cooper.
Supt. Cooper, who himself didn’t attend the meeting but had a proxy there, told FrontPageAfrica that they had invited the aggrieved employees and the company’s management to a conference in Sanniquellie in order to seek from the company the fate of the redundant employees. Before this meeting, the county authority had given the company a two-week time for it and the workers to meet. The two weeks ended on Tuesday, November 12.
Speaking to our Nimba County correspondent, the County Inspector, Reginald Mehn, who represented the Nimba Supt. at the meeting, expressed disappointment that the company refused to send a representative on the day set aside for the dialogue so that the company doesn’t get into conflict with those aggrieved employees, who have now threatened to disrupt the normal activities of the company.
According to him, the county administration along with a group of young people under the banner concerned Nimbaians headed by Teron S. Dolo, had expected the company to show up for the meeting as the redundant employees had earlier appeared on the community radio and threatened to disturb the normal daily operations of the company.
“The company told us that they were going to let us go because the price of iron ore on the world market had dropped so badly and they would call us back later. But it is more than five years now they have not called us back and are not saying anything to us about us going back to work.” – Kingston Nyandibo, Head of the Redundant Workers
County Inspector Mehn told this newspaper that November 12, was the day allegedly set aside by the two parties and the mediator to meet.
But ArcelorMittal allegedly refused to show up or sent a representative.
According to him, due to the refusal of the company to come to the meeting, they as county administrators then sought to invite the intervention of the county’s lawmakers so that the former employees’ planned demonstration can be averted from going on against the company.
He expressed his disappointment that in addition to ArcelorMittal not sending anyone to the meeting, they didn’t not also communicate with the county authority to inform them that they won’t attend the meeting.
According to our Nimba County correspondent, the redundant employees, who had turned out for the meeting, felt frustrated and issued their threats on the local radio. They gave the company a two-day ultimatum, which began on Wednesday, November 13.
The head for the aggrieved, redundant employees, Kingston Nyandibo, told FrontPageAfrica that he and his colleagues are in three groups, including redundant employees, those who were “fired without any reason given to them and illegal termination of contractors when contracts’ durations had not reached.
According to him, their removal from their posts began four years ago in 2015.
“The company told us that they were going to let us go because the price of iron ore on the world market had dropped so badly and they would call us back later. But it is more than five years now they have not called us back and are not saying anything to us about us going back to work,” he stated.
If the aggrieved former employees go ahead with their demonstration on Friday, it will be the fourth popular uprising against the company since it began operations in Nimba County in 2010.
Meanwhile, back in November 2018, the plenary of the House of Representatives, acting upon the recommendations of its Joint Committee on Mines, Energy, Environment and Health had requested ArcelorMittal Liberia to “unconditionally” reinstate all redundant and illegally dismissed workers.
ArcelorMittal, between 2015 and 2016 significantly laid off most its workers owing to “continuing unfavorable market conditions and changes to the company’s operating model.”
But the joint Committee, following an intensive investigation of the AML’s operations in Liberia found the company liable of grossly violating the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) it signed with the Government of Liberia and called on the company to put back the workers to their previous positions within a period of four months.
“All redundant employees who were issued letters by AML Management with the hope of reinstating them when conditions improve should be unconditionally reinstated to their various existing positions without technicality of nomenclature within the period not exceeding four months and those contractors whose contracts were breached should be appropriately paid within the same period,” the joint Committee recommends.
The committee called for illegally dismissed employees to be reinstated immediately and those who inherited medical problems as a result of the job and considered physically incapable based on medical advice to be appropriately compensated.
In addition, the company is mandated to do away with the term “permanent contractor which contradicts the fair labor practices and labor laws of Liberia and citizens considered in said categories should be employed within two months; while all unskilled laborers should be recruited from the affected communities around the areas of operations.”