Early this week, hundreds of former Guthrie Rubber Plantation tappers staged a protest action, disrupting normal work at the plantation. The Guthrie Rubber Plantation, which is situated in Bomi County, is currently under the management of Sime Darby, a Malaysian Company Reports had it that the aggrieved workers’ action was in demand of severance benefit s the government owes them.
The aggrieved tappers, who stormed the offices of the plantation, held several senior staff hostage for several hours. The protesters, according to reports, said their action was aimed at drawing the attention of the management to their plight.
However, soldiers of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) supported by officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) moved in swiftly and brought the situation under control. But the aggrieved employees vowed to continue their protest until the management addresses their legitimate concern.
Last month, the Liberian government commenced the payment of severance benefits to the former Guthrie Rubber Plantation tappers drawing up a time frame that the payment would be made to them.
Some of the tappers protested over the amount the government offered while others received theirs.
We are seriously concerned about the latest protest at Guthrie because it has the propensity to undermine the operations of the new management which took over the plantation recently and also discourage other potential investors from coming in.
While we acknowledge the plight of the aggrieved tappers, we think protest action is not the solution in addressing their concern. We believe protest actions such as taking managing staff hostage do not only discourage investors, but also retard progress, and henceforth, needs to be discouraged. To this end, we call on the aggrieved tappers to seek dialogue and shun protect action in addressing their concern.