HARBEL, Liberia (Aug. 1, 2016) — Firestone Liberia, the indirect natural rubber-growing subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, is laying off approximately 500 workers at its plantation in Harbel.
This represents about 7 percent of the plantation workers, according to a Firestone Liberia press release issued July 28. This is the first major layoff Firestone Liberia has made since the 1980s, according to the company.
A number of factors have created “ongoing significant and unsustainable losses” at the plantation that necessitated the layoffs, according to Firestone Liberia.
Among these are:
- The high overhead costs of Firestone Liberia's concession agreement with the government of Liberia;
- Lower natural rubber yields, stemming largely from the company's inability to replant Hevea trees during Liberia's 14-year civil war;
- Continued low prices for NR; and
- Liberia's uncertain business climate.
The layoffs will take place between August and October, according to the company. Laid-off employees will receive severance packages in keeping with the laws of Liberia and the company's collective bargaining agreement with the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL), it said.