Authorities at the Firestone Rubber Plantation Thursday July 28 announced a reduction in its workforce by 500 employees at its Harbel facility, citing ongoing significant and unsustainable losses as reason.
The number to staff to be downsized constitute about roughly 7% of the company’s workforce here. Firestone Liberia is an indirect subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Inc.
The company said in a statement released Thursday that “continued low natural rubber prices, high overhead costs associated with the company’s concession agreement with the Government of Liberia, low production as a result of the inability to plant during the country’s 14-year civil wars, and the country’s uncertain business climate are the primary reasons for the continuing financial losses.”
It said layoffs are scheduled to take place between August and October of 2016. “These layoffs are the first such broad reductions since the 1980s,” the company announced.
“Our employees are very important to us and making any change to our operations and employees is an incredibly difficult decision for our leadership team,” said Ed Garcia, president and managing director of Firestone Liberia. “We remain committed to the country and people of Liberia, and our main priority is to ensure the long-term sustainability of our operation,” it stated further.
The company statement said employees who are separated from the company will be provided a severance package in keeping with applicable laws of Liberia and the company’s collective bargaining agreement with the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia.
The company said it will continue to implement a number of other measures to cut costs in its operation, including streamlining of the company’s business functions to reduce expenses, improving operational efficiencies, and discontinuing company employee-tapping operations in certain very old and low-producing areas of the concession.
Firestone Liberia says it has injected more than $1 billion USD into the Liberian economy through government taxes, salaries and pensions, local purchases and rubber purchases from local farmers, and has spent over $75 million in providing free education, healthcare, housing and security.-New Dawn