The Cocopa Agriculture Workers Union is calling on the Supreme Court of Liberia to hand down ruling into the case involving the Cocopa Rubber Plantation, Liberia Company and the Government of Liberia to ease the plight of the suffering workers.
The Government of Liberia halted operation of the Liberia Company last year for failure to cater to the welfare of its employees, including other benefits. The government subsequently appointed the Nimba Rubber Incorporated to take care of the Cocopa plantation, but it appears that the workers’ plight has moved from bad to worse.
Speaking to The NewDawn correspondent in Nimba on Tuesday, 20 January the Secretary for the Workers Union, Victor Zellie, said, the Supreme Court has delayed in coming with final ruling in the case, which has worsened condition of workers at the plantation.
He said while it is true that the Nimba Rubber Incorporated is only a caretaker, it should not in any way suggest that the welfare of workers should be overlooked.
Mr. Zellie cited delay in catering to workers; refusal of the interim management to pay liabilities owed 250 employees, lack of housing units, and poor medical facilities, among others as problems affecting them.
He noted that the Ganta United Methodist Hospital, which provided medication for workers of the plantation, has stopped due to accumulated debts of L$1 Million owned by the Cocopa management.
During a visit by our correspondent to the plantation, it was observed that Cocopa lacks pit latrines and better bathrooms, amongst others.
Meanwhile, the project manager for the Nimba Rubber Plantation, Benjamin Saye, said some of the issues raised by the workers through the union are true, but blamed it on fall in the global price of rubber in the last few years.
He said some of the issues are also liabilities NRI met on the ground when it took over from the former management.
Mr. Saye however assured the aggrieved employees that management is working hard to address many of those concerns, but stressed that it would require collective effort of both the workers and the management.
According to our Nimba County correspondent, the Cocopa Rubber Plantation is the largest in Nimba but succeeding managements had failed to improve the livelihoods of workers after the civil war.
The aggrieved workers lamented that they and their children, totaling about 10 family members sleep in a single room, which is highly uncomfortable, including lack of toilets, among others.
By Franklin Doloquee, Nimba