-calls for restraint
The leadership of the General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia or GAAWUL has noted with serious concern the recent unfortunate event at the Liberia Agriculture Company in Grand Bassa County, leading to the death of several workers and with many injuries.
The disaster has reportedly claimed about 10 lives with many others said to be in critical health condition at the S.D. Cooper Hospital on 12th Street, Monrovia.
A Government’s statement released here last week through the Ministry of Labour, expressed deep regret for the incident.
“The Ministry is deeply saddened by this troubling development. We offer our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and friends. We have been deeply concerned about what went wrong…” the statement read.
A press release issued in Monrovia by GAAWUL under the signature of its Secretary-General Alfred Z.B. Summerville, and Vice President for Administration, James T. Greave, said in deciding to stay away from work, the LAC workers submitted as precondition to returning to work a statement, expressing several concerns.
Among others the employees said the Management failed to provide health and safety education, and did not respond adequately after the explosion that caused the death of several of their colleagues, including injuries of many others.
The LAC Management has reportedly provided US$4,500.00 for the burial of the dead victims, while it is fully sponsoring the medication of the injured at the S.D. Cooper Hospital on 12th Street, Sinkor in Monrovia.
The workers described the disaster as very serious, noting that Management was negligent in handling safety and health, which has exacerbated the situation, and that the blast should be investigated.
Accordingly, the workers are demanding that the General Manager of LAC and his deputies be dismissed before they can return to work.
GAAWUL expressed sincere regrets for the situation and support the views of the LAC workers that a more decisive action by management in handling the issues raised in the workers’ position statement could have produced a more positive result. “We wish to extend condolences to the bereaved families and the wounded”, the release added.
However, the union is calling on the workers to exercise restraints as it consults with the Government and Management to find an amicable and peaceful solution. “Our desire in this connection is to resolve the current crisis and prevent similar situation in the future”, GAAWUL stressed.
It also maintained that the explosion should be thoroughly investigated, and while the probe is ongoing, the wounded should be transferred abroad for advanced medication.
The union called on the workers to return to work while the issues are placed on the table for negotiation, saying, “Our history and tradition as workers organization is to appeal to reason through negotiation in the content of the tripartite network as mechanism for progress.”
GAAWUL is calling on the Government and the LAC Management to join the search for a common ground in resolving the crisis.