Liberia: Firestone Crumbling?

Mass layoff of employees at Firestone Liberia is not sufficient to improve the company's weak financial position, the US firm said in a statement Monday in the capital Monrovia.

For the second time in less than three years the company announced it would reduce its workforce by 13%, which is approximately 800 employees by early April end June 2019.

Between August and October 2016, Firestone terminated 500 jobs or roughly 7% of its regular workforce, citing "company's ongoing significant and unsustainable losses at its Liberia-based natural rubber producing operation. Continued low natural rubber prices, high overhead costs associated with the company's concession agreement with the Government of Liberia, low production as a result of the inability to plant during the country's 14-year civil wars, and the country's uncertain business climate."

These layoffs are the first such broad reductions since the 1980s, it said then.

Twenty-five months on, the company restated the same conditions on March 18 and revealed it is evaluating "all aspects of its business" in the country.

"Headcount reductions will take place throughout the company's operations and include retirement, discontinuation of certain work contracts and redundancies, it said.

"Unfortunately, these measures alone will not be enough to restore Firestone Liberia to profitability.

"As a result, the company will continue to evaluate all aspects of its business to ensure long-term competitiveness and determine the best allocation of company resources to optimize our portfolio, processes and culture."

Since 2004, Firestone Liberia, an indirect subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Inc. with a little over 6,000 workforce, has injected more than $1 billion USD into the Liberian economy through government taxes, salaries and pensions, local purchases and rubber purchases from local farmers, and has spent over $75 million in providing free education, healthcare, housing and security.

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