New Democrat (Monrovia)

4 January 2013

Liberia: Putu Arrest Tussle Deepens

Complaints by David Sackor, secretary general of the Putu Iron Ore Mining Workers Union alleging the company masterminded the arrest of three workers in Putu, and that it also engaged in labor abuse, have attracted an avalanche of denials amongst stake-holders with the management of the firm describing the claims as "untrue".

Mr. Sackor told a recent a press conference that the company is against the formation of a workers' union at its site, and accused it of engaging in the 'extraction of blood from its employees for ritualistic activities in South Africa.

Reports said five persons were arrested in the mining areas on grounds that they went against the rules of the company.

But at a press conference yesterday, human resource managerMrs. Mahdea Belleka and J. Ronnie Addy, senior executive of the company, denied the claims as "untrue."

"At no time has the company opposed the formation of a union. The company has rather demonstrated its support by holding several discussions with its executives from the inception of the idea to the induction of the union leadership into office.

"And also, at no time has the company extracted blood from any of its employees for ritualistic purposes. These claims made by the Secretary General of the Workers Union are false, misleading, diabolical, malicious and only intended to smear the good name of the company and its employees," Mr. Addy said.

Speaking on the issue of the extraction of blood, he said, since 1960s, studies conducted in the United States by the Department of Labor have shown that substance abuse is not only prevalent in the workplace, but that it is extremely costly to employers.

It is also said that 65% of all accidents on the job are related to drugs or alcohol and that employees who abuse substance causes 40% of on the job injuries, and as such, the company with the consent of the workers says it does a urine test to avoid such occurrences at their site.

"These test are conducted with the consent of the employees and urine samples, not blood are used," Addy emphasized.

Mrs. Belleka said these tests are done on a daily basis at all managerial levels of the company.

"These tests cover all the employees and workers on the site. It is done to save lives because we operate in a very delicate area. You are up the mountains operating heavy equipment and we don't want anything that could result into fatality on the job to occur at all.

"So as a very responsible company that cares for the welfare of both the staff and the company, we do everything to prevent accidents at the site," she said.

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