Over 250 aggrieved former workers of Arcelor Mitral Liberia (AML), who gathered under the banner of “Aggrieved Redundant Workers of AML”, have agreed to call off their planned protest against the company after the intervention of Internal Affairs Minister Varney A. Sirleaf.
The aggrieved former workers assembled as early as 5:00 am on Thursday on the train track that runs from the company’s main concession hub of Yekepa in Nimba County to the port city of Buchanan in Grand Bassa County, where the iron ore is shipped out of the country, to disrupt normal activities of Arcelor Mittal.
The aggrieved workers’ action claimed the attention of Internal Affairs Minister Sirleaf, who was on a visit to the county, leaving him to immediately arrange a meeting with leaders of the protesters.
Following a closed door meeting with leaders of the protesters, the management of Arcelor Mittal and Nimba County Superintendent, D. Dorr Cooper, a decision was reached by the protesters to call off their protest action and await the intervention of government.
According to an MIA release issued in the county, the head of the redundant workers, Mr. Kingston Nyandibo, told Minister Sirleaf that about 769 workers were affected by the “illegal redundancy” exercise.
According to him, 363 of those affected are employees, 366 contractors and 44 others.
In response to Minister Sirleaf’s request for the protesters to get off the track, Mr. Nyandibo promised to immediately communicate with his colleagues and travel along the train track to ensure calm is restored and all protests along the railway abandoned as they look up to the government for redress.
A protest head, Mr. Joseph G. Kaye, said the decision to lay them off started between 2015 and 2016 due to the drop in the price of iron ore on the world market, with an understanding that they (workers) would be recalled when the price of the commodity improves.
He, however, stated that the company is yet to recall them even though the price of iron ore has improved on the global market since 2017.
According to Mr. Kaye, they as heads of the redundant workers have been pursuing the matter with the company since May 2018, but they are yet to get redress, noting that this led to the protest action.
In remarks, Minister Sirleaf assured the protesters that his office will work with the relevant government entities, including the Labor Ministry and the National Bureau of Concessions to find a solution to their problem.
Also making remarks, Arcelor Mittal head of Government Relations, Marcus S. Wleh appealed to the protesters to grant the company a grace period to enable it sort out relevant documents that will lead to finding a permanent solution to the problem. LINA