ArcelorMittal redundant workers stage protest on train track in Grand Bassa County
The Authorities of Grand Bassa County have condemned alleged brutality melted against the redundant workers of Arcelor Mittal Liberia by armed officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP).
Speaking to reporters over the weekend in Buchanan, Superintendent Janjay Baikpeh and Representative Matthew Joe of Electoral District#3, Grand Bassa County, say they regret the alleged flogging of the redundant Workers who assembled peacefully in demand of their money owed them by Arcelor Mittal Liberia.
Superintendent Baikpeh who condemned the act, also claims responsibility of the action carried out by the Judicial Branch of Government on ground that he is a part of the government, noting, "As such, I take the responsibility of what the police did to you and want to apologize in this public manner."
Baikpeh then instructed the head of the aggrieved workers to take people who sustained injuries in the police brutality to the hospital on this order, "Mr. Head, please take those that got injured in the process and send the bill to me and I will underwrite the cost." He said the incident went this far because he was not in county.
"I got the information late and upon receiving it I hurriedly went to the scene but before getting there, the two vehicles that were carrying my people have picked up already. The only thing I could do was to call my immediate Boss, Varney Sirleaf to send my citizens back. It was on that note the people were brought back to Buchanan," said Baikpeh.
"Again I'm sorry for the misfortune but please remain calm because the government has started engaging Mittal," he added.
Superintendent Baikpeh at same time assured the aggrieved former workers that Internal Affairs Minister Varney Sirleaf convened a meeting for Tuesday, February 18, 2020 between the redundant Workers and the Management of Arcelor Mittal Liberia.
For his part, the Head of the redundant Workers Grand Bassa County, Peter Johnson said they were illegally dismissed by Arcelor Mittal Liberia in 2014 and since that time they (redundant Workers) have been engaging relevant authorities observing the rule of law, but to no avail.
"In Grand Bassa, we who were put down are 169 persons and we have over the time engaged our local and national leaders," said Johnson. "Following our peaceful approach, Labour, Justice and Internal Affairs Ministries met with Mittal and us ( redundant Workers), and after investigation the three ministries came out with a ruling on the 15 of January 2020."
In that ruling, Mittal was asked to pay and reinstate those with the desire to still work with the company; pay two years salaries to them that still want to work but the company is not interested in them, and three years salaries to those willing to work but the company is not willing to accept them.
"The ruling came out January 15, 2020, and Arcelor Mittal Liberia was given ten days to respond, but since then we have not heard from them," said Johnson.
It is from this backdrop that all of the redundant Workers of Grand Bassa, Bong, and Nimba Counties converged on the "Rail Way" Friday February 14 demanding response from Mittal.
We that are workers of Bassa gathered at Kilometer 6 while our colleagues in Bong and Nimba did the same thing, Peter Johnson stressed.
"We peacefully assembled here when the police came and asked us to remove the "Road Block" and we did without hesitation," Johnson added.
According to the group head, James Borbor, Bobby Joe, Joseph Seakpo, Peter Sayou, Orlando Konneh, John Barkon, Prince Walker, Reuben Kiamue among others were beaten and wounded, while some lost their money, cellphones and other valuable items.
When contacted, the police commander of Grand Bassa County, Sackor Freeman said he reserves all comments for now.