HARBEL, Liberia — Bridgestone Corp.'s Firestone Natural Rubber Co. business unit is planning to cut its workforce in Liberia by 13 percent by the second quarter.
The company — which collects and processes natural rubber and rubber tree wood — said the decision will affect about 800 employees and will include the elimination of positions due to retirement, discontinuation of contracts and redundancies.
The company cited a number of factors for driving the cuts, including "continued and unsustainable losses due to high overhead costs associated with the company's concession agreement with the government of Liberia," prolonged civil wars and low rubber prices.
"Unfortunately, these measures alone will not be enough to restore Firestone Liberia to profitability," the company said regarding the cuts.
"As a result, the company will continue to evaluate all aspects of its business to ensure long-term competitiveness and determine the best allocation of company resources to optimize our portfolio, processes and culture."
At nearly 119,000 acres, Firestone Natural Rubber Co. is considered the largest single natural rubber operation in the world, supplying parent Bridgestone Corp. with technically specified block rubber for tire production.
It was established in 1926 by Firestone Tire & Rubber Co.