LIBERIA’S GUTHRIE PLANTATION: WHAT HAPPENED?

The Guthrie Rubber Plantations are located in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount Counties, the western regions of Liberia.

But violence erupted there on the 19th of March, 2009 wwworkers of the plantations demonstrated against what they termed managemnt’s refusal to pay them their two months salary arrears.

 

An inter-ministerial committee was setup by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to investigate that recent violent fracas that vandalized the Guthrie Rubber Plantation in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties Tuesday toured the troubled Plantation and held consultative meeting with citizens of the area at the Gba Public School.
I was fortunate to have formed a part of the assessment tour.

 

 

 

 

 
A victim of last weekend’s riot shows off a bullet still trapped in his stomach.

During the tour followed by long hours of meeting where the citizens through their representatives narrated circumstances that led to the protest, Labour Minister Samuel Kofi Woods, head of the Inter-Ministerial Committee promised that government will take action against those bearing the greatest responsibility for the incident.

 

 

Minister Woods told the Guthrie workers and other citizens that government will take the necessary steps to remedy the situation after his committee completes the investigation by speaking with the accused, Senator Lahai Lassana.

“I can assure you that government will take action against whosoever is found responsible for this incident, we will meet with the Legislative causes from Bomi and Cape Mount to ensure our investigation is objective”, Minister Woods told the citizens.

The Labour Minister said the trip of the Inter-Ministerial Committee is an assessment trip and not investigative, asserting that it was intended for fact finding.

“Thank you for welcoming us here, I know there are things you are not happy about but when you are not happy with your mother that will not break the family ship. The president is the mother of this country, even if you are not happy, you must know that the president is the mother of this country and she will listen to your concern this is why she told us to come here.

The Minister called for a team to be setup by the workers to meet with the team regularly instead of the entire citizens and requested the gathering to submit the list of a team the committee will work with.

He told the citizens all the comments made during meting were made by responsible people and will all be taken seriously for the investigation.

Minister Woods disclosed that initial report of the Committee will be submitted to the President this Friday.

Bomi County Superintendent Muhammed Massaly described the situation as unfortunate stating that in his new era of Liberia such violence is not necessary.

He said those found liable of committing violence crimes against the people of Bomi will not go free and he is sure the government will protect the rights of the people.

 

The citizens divided into sub groups-women, students, men, elders explained separately to the Inter-Ministerial Committee about the incident with nearly all the speakers pointing fingers at Bomi County Senator Lahai Lassanah for the shooting and also blaming the management team at Guthrie for ignoring the plight of the workers something they said provoked the incident.

The Guthrie workers accused the management team of the plantation of exploiting their labour by paying them low salaries and reflecting higher figures on the company’s payroll.

Displaying a document the workers said they obtained from the headquarters of the Guthrie Plantation company, the workers claimed several employees of the plantation names were reflected on a payroll for receiving 200 to 300 when they are getting less than US$100.

One of the employees whose name is listed on the payroll the workers obtained, Solomon Kandakai who was present and displayed his identification card to journalists had US$210 as salary on the payroll but said he is receiving US$60.

Dauda Metzger, Personnel Manager of the Guthrie Plantation defended that the workers do not know the difference between gross and net salaries but failed to explain the huge difference between US$210 as reflected on the Guthrie payroll for Solomon Kandakai and the US$60 the employee is paid.

Student Representative Edwin Kelly told the consultative meeting that their school campus was looted during the protest with chairs and other materials taken away.

Student Kelly told the Inter-Ministerial Committee that the schools at the plantation lack laboratory, library and other research facilities to make students prepare for the upcoming West African Examination Council (WAEC) exams.

He also complained that the students are facing transportation problem and some walk over long distances to get to school.

Majority of the speakers blamed Senator Lahia Lassana for the shooting at the plantation. “La Bagba fire and hurt our children that Bagba man must answer for what he did to us, he cannot shoot our children and go free”, Madam Theresa Karlay, women representative told the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: