An investigation by the Ministry of Labor found steel giant ArcelorMittal guilty of unfair labor practices, and the ministry therefore ordered the company to pay US $ 308,000 in compensation to the affected employees.
The ministry then asked the management of ArcelorMittal-Liberia to start disbursing the said amount directly to the affected workers from September 23, 2021, which constitutes the full and final settlement of the unfair labor practices the company has faced. .
For the ministry, AML’s action to hand over the affected contractors to an employee agency when they had been employed by it for more than two years without any benefits was a violation of the country’s labor law.
“The law governing the period of engagement requires that the maximum duration of activity that may be stipulated in any written employment contract is two years for the execution of a contract and the maximum duration of activity for a contract of employment. written reuse. will be 18 months. There is no dispute as to whether the injured contractors spent more than 36 months at work, ”said Labor Minister Cllr. said Charles Gibson.
The complaint against AML began in October 2020 when former contractors of the company filed a complaint with the ministry for its intervention in what they alleged to be “unfair labor” practices which they claim are applied against them by the company and its management.
During the investigation, the workers argued that there were 546 subcontractors who were hired by AML at different times ranging from four to seven years to work in various departments at two different AML sites, Buchanan and Yekepa.
They stated that they were employed as subcontractors, but were then handed over by AML to employment agencies; Frontline and ROSNA, who then fired them after two years of service in their respective positions at various AML facilities in Nimba and Grand Bassa counties. They also claimed that AML broke its promise to rehire them when business improved.
Former workers argued that these acts committed by AML constituted unfair labor practices. They also produced ID cards, access passes and social security ID cards allegedly issued to them by AML to substantiate their allegations of former AML workers.
But AML in its defense claimed that its action to transfer the status of workers directly under AML to employment agencies was not illegal. AML claimed that the former injured workers were casual workers and as such were not entitled to employment benefits.
They noted that the issuance of an access pass to workers was intended to allow them access to anti-money laundering sites. However, in the minds of the sub-contractors, these were sub-contractors of AML and not Frontline / ROSNA as they had never applied for a job with Frontline / ROSNA.
But the Labor Ministry, in its decision, sided with former AML workers, saying some of them were given access passes duly issued and hired at different times and that AML introduced Frontline / ROSNA in 2013 to subcontractors after most of them had already worked for more than three years as subcontractors at AML sites.
The ruling added that many injured contractors / former workers have been repeatedly sacked by Frontline / ROSNA while others have been sacked by AML, and in 2017 AML took a new job regardless of the workers. dismissed.
At the same time, the Ministry of Labor also ordered to complete the payment of the US $ 308,000 by October 1, 2021, and that the former workers’ leadership receive US $ 15,000 to cover its overhead costs during the protracted struggle for workers ‘rights, despite being a registered workers’ union.
The people who should benefit according to the ministry reside in the counties of Nimba and Grand Bassa where AML has its operations.
Min. Gibson added, “That the management of former injured workers make themselves available to be present during the disbursement period. That the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Justice and the Bureau of Concessions will ensure the monitoring of the compliance of the process. ”
The move also comes after ArcelorMittal signed a deal with George Weah’s administration as part of amending or revising its 25-year mining deal with Liberia, where it will at least triple its ore production. iron and invest an additional $ 800 million.
According to the agreement, annual ore production is expected to increase to 15 million tonnes during the first phase of expansion and could reach 30 million tonnes.
The steel and mining company first signed a 25-year deal with Liberia in 2005 and shipped the first iron ore from its Yekepa mine in 2011. It aimed to increase production to 15 million. tons much earlier, but those plans were put on hold. in 2014, when he declared force majeure on the expansion project due to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
During the signing ceremony, President Weah said the government would receive a total of $ 65 million in revenue from ArcelorMittal.