27 February 2013

Liberia: Firestone Liberia Ends Another Anti-Child Labor Seminar

A one-day Anti-Child Labor Seminar organized by the Management of Firestone Liberia has ended, with a call for employees to strictly adhere to Management's policy against the practice. The Seminar was held in the gymnasium of the Firestone Liberia Senior High School in Division 44. According to Management, the purpose of the periodic seminar was to further reinforce Firestone Liberia's zero tolerance policy on child labor and to enhance continuous public awareness throughout its concession area.

Participants of the seminar included employees from various technical departments of the company, such as Garage (Heavy and Light Duties), Engineering (Construction, Electrical, Roads and Bridges, Water and Sanitation). The attendees were informed by Management that the seminar was a form of education and awareness for them to know the seriousness Management attaches to its zero tolerance policy on child labor, and not that employees were in any form or manner involved in the practice. The employees, who participated in the seminar, were further told that Management believes that the best place for children is in school. The company currently operates 27 schools with nearly 16, 000 students enrolled, all of them children of employees who receive free education.

The one-day event discussed among other topics: The Liberian Law on Child Labor, Cause: Factors Contributing to Child Labor, the Effects of Child Labor and Firestone Liberia Anti-Child Labor Policy. The various facilitators who spoke at the seminar admonished the participants to treat their children in a humane manner by not exposing them to hazardous work but to make sure that they attend and remain in school so that they can be prepared citizens who will lead Liberia in the future.

The anti-child labor issue is not only a Firestone Liberia policy, but also is contained in international conventions ratified by the Liberian Government. The participants who were urged to keep their children in school were told that this will enable them to become resourceful citizens and make meaningful contributions to the overall growth and development of their country in the future.

Addressing participants later on during the day, Saturday, February 23, 2013, the Interim President and Managing Director of Firestone Liberia, Mr. Patrick Rodrigo, thanked the participants for taking interest in the seminar and their overwhelming response to the call of Management to form part of the discussions. Mr. Rodrigo described children as the future of a country and should be treated in such a way that prepares them for responsibilities as future leaders. "The welfare and education of our children should be of paramount concern to us parents and not to misuse them to the detriment of ourselves and society." The Firestone Liberia's boss told the employees.

The Employees Relations Manager of Firestone Liberia, Counselor Winleta Aynn Henries Reeves, also spoke at the program regarding the "company's policy". She reiterated that drastic actions await anyone who engages in child labor no matter who that person is or his/her position with the company.

Facilitators who lectured at the one-day anti-child labor seminar were Professor Steve M. Jubwe, Sr. of the University of Liberia, Mr. Reginald Mehnpaine, a National Labor Consultant and Counselor Jonathan Williams, Legal Counselor at the Liberian National Legislature. It can be recalled that the Management of Firestone Liberia last year held a similar seminar for employees in the education and production departments.

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