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Friday, June 14, 2024

WORKERS PROTEST ALLEGED LABOR ABUSES AT MANO PALM OIL PLANTATION

Date:

MONROVIA, LIBERIA – Workers from Mano Palm Oil Industries Limited (MPOI) in Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties staged a protest on Tuesday, May 7, 2024, citing bad labor practices and inhumane treatment by the company. The workers, aggrieved by the situation, have demanded that the company leave the area. They set up roadblocks leading to the plantation and called for government intervention through the Ministry of Labor.

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Mano Palm Oil Industries Limited (MPOI) is a prominent Liberian palm oil corporation that has been active in the industry since 2016. In 2019, MPOI acquired Sime Darby Liberia, which was subsequently renamed Mano Palm Oil Plantation (MPOP). MPOP has emerged as one of the leading plantations in Liberia, with palm oil as its predominant crop, covering an extensive 10,324.72 hectares.

It can be recalled the government of Liberia in October 2022, through its relevant agencies and ministries, failed in its effort to amicably resolve the disagreement between the Mano Oil Palm Company and aggrieved workers and residents of Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties.

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Howbeit, the protesters claim that despite the company operating in the area for four years, they have not received fair treatment. They also allege that their lawmakers have not addressed their concerns, even after they wrote letters detailing the issues faced by the workers.

One of the main demands of the protesters calling for Assad R. Fadel, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the plantation, to step down, accusing him of being responsible for the current situation at the plantation. They argue that Fadel’s management has led to their suffering and that he must be held accountable. The workers carried placards with messages such as “We don’t want Asaad R. Fadel” and “Asaad R. Fadel must go!!!” They have vowed to continue protesting until the government takes over the plantation for investigation.

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Additionally, the aggrieved workers displayed a document stating, “The defendant management failed to refute the dismissal allegation, instead, accepted and gave grounds that are far from reality or not in conformity with dismissal laws/provisions outlined in Chapter 14.3. The dismissal action by the defendant management, Sime Darby/Mano Oil Plantation Company, was pre-calculated and wickedly carried out to bring untold suffering to those peaceful citizens in violation of their fundamental rights.

Furthermore, the court’s ruling states: “Therefore, based on the foregoing facts and circumstances, coupled with the testimonies of the witnesses and evidence adduced during the hearing of the subject matters, the investigation is of the candid opinion that the defendant management, Sime Darby/Mano Oil Palm Plantation Company, is held liable for the wrongful dismissal of complainants Philip S. Young et al. Therefore, the defendant management, Sime Darby/Mano Oil Palm Plantations Company, is hereby ordered to reinstate the complainants and pay them 10 months of their accrued salary and benefits from the day of their dismissal up to present as though they were never dismissed.”

The workers are seeking justice and are determined to see a resolution to their grievances. They are calling on the government to act swiftly to address their concerns and ensure that their rights as workers are protected.

It can be recalled on Thursday, February 29, a protest at the Bea Mountain Mining Company in Grand Cape Mount County resulted in the loss of two lives and left several others wounded.

Tensions rose between officers of the Liberia National Police (LNP) and aggrieved citizens, underscoring the deep-seated discontent surrounding mining operations in the area.

What began as a peaceful demonstration by local residents voicing grievances against the mining company’s operations quickly escalated into a confrontation with law enforcement. Reports indicate that clashes broke out as police attempted to disperse the crowd, leading to a chaotic and violent altercation.

Tragically, two individuals lost their lives during the unrest, succumbing to injuries sustained during the clashes. Additionally, several others sustained varying degrees of injuries, further heightening the already tense situation.

Socrates Smythe Saywon
Socrates Smythe Saywon is a Liberian journalist. You can contact me at 0777425285 or 0886946925, or reach out via email at saywonsocrates@smartnewsliberia.com or saywonsocrates3@gmail.com.

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