- Published on Saturday, 11 August 2012 23:45
- Written by Alloycious David
Employees at two logging concessions in Rivercess County have complained of appalling working conditions in their concession area, especially sleeping in 'dungeons' built by their various managements.
Workers at Mandra-EJ and J and Mandra –LTTC (Liberia Tree and Trading Company) alleged that the companies are practicing modern day slavery at their concessions.
Workers at Mandra-LTTC disclosed on Wednesday in Rivercess County that they (employees) usually sleep on the bare floor in an underground wooden structure that has a height of about 3 feet.
They also claimed that some workers, mostly ten persons, shared a single room in wooden hall. The workers said Mandra-LTTC has failed to provide them mattresses despite several requests.
According to the workers, some of whom are power saw operators, security guards, they have been reduced to goats, sleeping in cave.
The employees also noted that they have to crawl on their knees before entering their room, adding “we can't even stand in these rooms, which become very cool at night.”
They also alleged that when employees who attempt to speak against the appalling conditions at the concession, they are either suspended or dismissed.
The employees made reference to a recent situation in which about one hundred of their colleagues were recently sent home for serious issues concerning their condition.
An employee who spoke to this paper on condition of anonymity disclosed that they are paid US$100 monthly and a half bag of 'Uncle Sam rice' without medical and other benefits.
“We are forced to be here; what can we do; there is a shortage of jobs in the country, so people take advantage of us,” he narrated.
Also speaking to reporters, an employee at Mandra –LTTC said “the working condition here is deplorable; workers are under paid and lack the necessary facilitates.
He alleged that the company is deducting US$8 from their US$142 monthly income for insurance when the company has told them that they were insured.
The employee said there is no school at the concession area that the company operates a makeshift clinic that lacks essential medications.
He revealed that some of them sleep on plank at Mandra –LTTC, for which they want the intervention of the Liberian government.
When asked about the position of the Labor Ministry, the employee alleged that the Labor Ministry officials assigned in the county are in the 'company's pocket', saying “they usually come here to visit management.”
When contacted, Mandra- EJ and J Bush Manager Eric Chiong said the structures for workers were temporary ones and are expected to move to a new camp soon.
“Everything is well, we are slowly upgrading living condition here,” Mr. Eric said.
Regarding illegal dismissal, he admitted that the company has sent the worker home because it has temporary slow down due to the raining season.
He refused to response to further questions and referred our reporter to one Deariser Dane, the company's Resource Officer in Monrovia.
When our reporter contacted the Resource Officer's number provided to him by Mr. Eric, it was at a switch-off.
Our reporter visit to the companies' operational site was made possible through the courtesy of Green Advocates International.