The Minister of Labor, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson has called on the Management of ArcelorMittal Liberia to test the local job market in Liberia before hiring foreign workers to work for the Company in Liberia.
According to a press release from the Minister’s office, Minister Gibson told the Company’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Jozephus Coenen that the company doesn’t need to hire carpenters, mansory, drivers and other local jobs that Liberians are ably capable of doing in their country to pay foreign workers huge salaries and pay the Liberian less salary that cannot accommodate them or feel their family on the same job.
The press release stipulated the Minister urged the company’s Chief Executive Officer to review the concession agreement signed between the government of Liberia and ArcelorMittal Liberia, especially where the agreement talks about 30% of Liberian employees taking top managerial positions after eight years of the company operation and after 15 years 70 percent of Liberian should take over top positions.
Minister Gibson the company has bridged the agreement and deprived Liberian of the opportunity to serve in those areas that were agreed upon in the concession agreement signed.
According to him, some portion of the concession agreement talked about, at a certain time Liberian should be allowed to occupy some top positions, but ArcelorMittal has not yet been able to trust Liberian with those top positions.
“Minister Gibson also frowned at ArcelorMittal Management to improve their safety capacity at the company’s operational areas.” The press release mentioned.
The Labor Minister said the safety capacity of ArcelorMittal in Liberia is very low compared to many countries around the world where the Company is operating.
He said that it is regrettable to know that during the company safety report around the world, Liberia was not mentioned in the report, something which did not give a guarantee to the employees about their safety while working for the company.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the Liberia Labor Minister admonished ArcelorMittal management to speed up the housing unit project.
He said he will be delighted to see materials on the ground for the undertaking of the project, but urged the company to use local contractors instead of hiring foreign contractors that cannot speak English, and as such it will take a long time in transferring knowledge to Liberians that will be working alongside them.
The Liberia Labor Minister spoke when he held a discussion with ArcelorMittal Liberia regarding the working environment of Liberian workers working with the company including some key issues that needed redress from the management.
In response ArcelorMittal CEO Mr. Jozephus Coenen spoke of plans to improve industrial health and safety standards at ArcelorMittal Liberia’s operational site. Mr. Coenen provided useful updates on actions and follow-ups from his previous meeting with the Minister.
He informed the Minister of the company’s commitment to providing more employment opportunities for Liberians and plans to ramp up the provision of adequate accommodation for employees in the concession area.
He said the company is working hard to improve the safety capacity towards ISO45001 to protect workers from injury, including behaviors, technical equipment, and communications that will guide and automate train operations to avoid accidents.
ISO 45001 is an international standard for health and safety at work developed by national and international standards committees independent of government.
The ArcelorMittal Liberia CEO also assured the Minister that the company was fully compliant with its employment commitments in the MDA.
He informed the Minister that six out of nine Heads of Departments (senior management) at AML are all Liberians.
He offered to continue prioritizing Liberians for employment at all levels and to address issues that the Minister raised about the conduct of some of its contractors.