Liberia Agricultural Company Workers Stage Go-Slow Over Company's 'Cold Shoulder' Towards Collective Bargaining Agreement

Lac — Aggrieved employees, mostly tappers of the Liberian Agriculture Company (LAC), have for the past three days, embarked on go-slow action in demands of what they call "their just entitlements".

The employees halted normal work at Liberia's second-largest rubber plantation company, accusing the leadership of the workers union of failing to negotiate with the management in order to ensure their just benefits are given.

Leave allowance and increased wages are the two main issues the workers union is negotiating with the management to form part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

But negotiations, which started since July 2019, have stalled due to the company's management resistance to proposals from the workers union.

The delay has angered tappers, who are frequently expressing dismay over their wages and living condition.

Kineen Kollie, an employee of LAC, told FrontPageAfrica that she has been in the employ of the company for 10 years. She claims she receives "no good medical care".

"We the workers of this company are really suffering in the hands of LAC management because the Workers Union is not in our interest," Kollie alleged.

"Can you imagine as a woman I can tap over 600 rubber trees, clean over 300 rubber cups and pack them at the same time for just $5.50 per day."

She claimed that she alone does the task of three people but she's underpayed, adding that her kids "used to be a help to us but the management of the company of recent stopped our kids from helping us to work".

"Before, I used to go with two of my children one collecting the cups, the other clean the cups, while I do the tapping but the Company stopped our kids from helping us all and the Workers Union Leadership said nothing about it," she explained.

She asserted that there is a need for their salaries to be increased from $5.50USD to at least $10US per day and find people to do some of the jobs instead of using one person for three different jobs.

Annie Yeah, another female employee, added that the go-slow action will continue until the management of LAC adheres to their concerns.

"Sometimes when we go for leave, the company can't give our rice or pay us, what they can do is to give us some money around US$144 and later deduct it from our salaries at once."

"If they deduct the money and our salaries turned zero balance the company can't give us our rice because we have negative salaries," she said.

She added that they've engaged the Workers Union leadership on many occasions but the Union has downplayed their complaints.

Peter Harris, another employee of the company, told an FPA reporter who visited the plantation on Thursday that "the leadership of the workers union is their problem".

Harris said since March 2019 "they wrote the workers union leadership, but they have applied no efforts toward their plight".

Alloycious Kollie, President of the Union, told FPA via cellphone on Thursday evening that the CBA negotiation has been ongoing since July of 2019 and there have been several delays.

He blamed some of the delays on the management of the company, saying that two senior officials traveled in the middle of the negotiation while there has also been stalemate over the two important issues.

Kollie added that the negotiation process with the management is a "give and take" process but the workers have been impatient due to the delays.

However, he disclosed that his leadership on Thursday began engaging aggrieved workers so that they can return to work as negotiation resumes with the management.

"Today we went from camp to camp to talk to them to ensure they understand the delay in the negotiations and go back to work so that we can go back on the drawing board," Kollie said.

Top Headlines: Liberia

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