Harbel, Liberia – July 26, 2020: On June 24, 2020, Firestone Liberia began the process under the Decent Work Act of 2015 related to a workforce reduction. The company’s decision to reduce its workforce is always difficult, and only made after much thought and consideration for affected employees, their dependents and the business.
Firestone Liberia’s unsustainable losses, the ongoing depressed prices in natural rubber, the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the global economy, uncontrolled crime and theft, and high overhead costs of the company’s concession agreement, make this workforce reduction critically necessary at this time.
This action was taken after discussions with a high-level joint working group established by the Office of the President of Liberia. The objective of the working group was to collaborate on meaningful solutions to help make the Firestone Liberia business sustainable through ongoing difficult economic times.
Members of the joint working group designated to represent the Government of Liberia include:
- Musah Dean Minister of Justice – Chairman
- Samuel Tweah Minister of Finance – Member
- Jeanine M Cooper Minister of Agriculture – Member
- Moses Y. Kollie Minister of Labor – Member
- Mobutu V. Nyenpan Minister of Public Works – Member
- Charles Bright Economic Advisor to the President – Member
- Archie Bernard Legal Advisor to the President – Member
In the spirit of cooperation as we work through this current issue, it was mutually agreed by Firestone Liberia, the governmental members of the working group, and representatives of the workers’ union, that the workforce reduction action would be postponed for a 30-day period to accommodate requests for additional information and dialog.
The Decent Work Act of 2015 specifies a period of time to work through the legal and detailed aspects of a workforce reduction with the Ministry of Labour, and discuss and negotiate the process with union leadership. Firestone Liberia fully respects this process, and we have hoped that all parties would do the same.
Firestone Liberia entered into this process in good faith, and is disappointed in recent statements by some government officials alleging the company is not in compliance with the laws of Liberia and obligations under its Concession Agreement. This is especially regrettable considering we are in the middle of a sensitive process to discuss the specifics of the issue with the appropriate parties under the law.
As confirmed by outside legal counsel, all actions taken by the company as part of the planned workforce reduction process have been fully compliant with the 2015 Decent Work Act, the company’s concession agreement, and all applicable laws and regulations of the Government of Liberia.
The primary focus of the leadership of Firestone Liberia and of the senior leadership of our parent company, Bridgestone Americas, is to urgently find meaningful ways to make our business in Liberia sustainable. The actions being taken are intended to allow Firestone Liberia to remain a core investor in the country.
As always, Firestone Liberia remains a committed partner of the people and government of Liberia, with the shared goal of the preservation and enhancement of the country’s natural rubber industry.