Normal working activities began at the Guthrie Rubber Plantation on Thursday, days after former employees there held senior managers and staffers of Sime Darby, a Malaysian company, hostage on Monday. The former Guthrie employees held the senior manager and staff hostage in demand of four month salary arrears owned them by the state. The plantation, which until recently was a state run entity following a takeover by government backed by the UN Mission here from ex-rebels control, was last month taken over by Sime Darby.
According to our Bomi County correspondent, the former Guthrie employees were paid 17% of their outstanding wages on January 5 and February 9, this year, but that they seem dissatisfied over the mode of payment which they described as being in piece meal.
The former employees, our correspondent said were from the three estates in Bomi, Lofa and Grand cape Mount Counties. Our correspondent added that the action of the former employees, which paralyze daily activities at the company since Monday ended Thursday. As part of their demands, the former employees said they want government to stop paying them at night as well as in bits and pieces.
According to our correspondent, the workers said the only language the government understands is force. “Liberian government like tension and if possible, violent action which is the only means for them to listen to you”, Saad Joseph, an early man told The New Dawn at the plantation Wednesday.
It can be recalled that sometime last year; workers at the plantation went on the rampage in demand of their back pay and other incentives. The demonstration was called off by the intervention of a government delegation headed by Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Bookie Sirleaf, who promised that government would settle their payment the following day but that did not happened.
Minister Sirleaf and others from the Labor Ministry conceded then that government was indebted to them for four months.
By Zinnah Cassell, Grand Cape Mount County