Tim Newman, Campaigns Assistant, International Labor Rights Fund
Firestone's rubber plantation in Liberia has been in the news quite a bit recently. Workers on the plantation went on strike last week to protest management's interference in new union elections. Currently, Firestone negotiates with a company-dominated union and these elections could usher in the first independent and democratic representation workers have ever had. However, the striking workers were met with violence from police. Read more about the situation here. Keep checking the ILRF website and the Stop Firestone website this week to find out more about how you can support the workers. (Click "continue reading" to read the AP story)
Also, yesterday, The Observer in the UK published a piece by Zadie Smith about her recent trip to Liberia. Smith is a highly respected British novelist whose works include White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty. In her piece, Smith talks about Firestone in Liberia and the plight facing Firestone workers. Read her "Letter from Liberia" here.
Striking Workers at Liberian Rubber Plantation Clash with Police
International Herald Tribune
April 27, 2007
Striking workers at the Firestone Rubber plantation in the West African nation
Between 6,000 and 8,000 workers at the plantation, which is run by a subsidiary of Japan-based tire giant Bridgestone Corp. and is Liberia's largest employer, have been striking since Tuesday. They are demanding the removal of a top manager, Labor Minister Kofi Woods said.
The Firestone plantation offers one of the few steady jobs for unskilled
laborers in war-recovering
On Friday, striking workers set up roadblocks and threw rocks at a force of Liberian police and United Nations peacekeepers called to the site to disperse the crowd, police Chief Munah Sieh said. She said police released tear gas into the crowd and fighting broke out. Sieh said three of the six wounded were police officers.
One of the injured, 50-year-old worker Anthony Saah, said he was attacked by police.
"I was not involved in the riot. The police rushed on me and said I was one of those throwing stones; they hit me with sticks on my head," he said. Saah was waiting to be treated at a hospital for head wounds.
About a dozen people were arrested and charged with rioting, Sieh said.
The strike started as company and government officials met in the capital, Monrovia, to review the contract that allows Firestone to operate on the 200-square-mile (500-square-kilometer) tract of land.
Worker spokesman Rancy Barco said the manager they were demanding be fired had tried to undermine the union. He did not provide further details.
Firestone has been operating in