PITTSBURGH (Aug. 11, 2008) — The United Steelworkers is applauding the signing of a labor agreement between Bridgestone/Firestone and its plantation workers in Liberia.
The new collective bargaining agreement between the company and Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia Firestone covers more than 4,000 union members and provides what the USW described as “significant gains” for workers at one of the world's largest rubber plantations.
The union said the contract highlights include wage increases of 24 percent for rubber tappers, retroactive to the expiration of a previous agreement in January 2007; a 20-percent reduction (150 trees) of the daily rubber tree quota for tappers; and transportation for bringing latex to weigh stations. Previously, the USW said tappers had to walk long distances with 150 pounds of latex yoked to their backs.
BFS said the terms of the contract are beneficial for the company and its employees as it continues to rebuild the plantation after 14 years of civil war.