Home Economy In Monrovia: Mass Protest Loams … As NIOC’s Nearly 2,000 Ex-Employees Demand Benefits Payment

In Monrovia: Mass Protest Loams … As NIOC’s Nearly 2,000 Ex-Employees Demand Benefits Payment

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: The Chairman of the former employees of the National Iron Ore Company, (NIOC) Mr. James T. Mafarlon, has disclosed that former employees of the erstwhile National Iron Ore Company, (NIOC) are at the verge of finalizing plans to stage a massive but peaceful protest at the Executive Mansion on Capitol Hill in Monrovia.

He disclosed the protest will be held before the offices of President George Manneh Weah for the alleged failure of the Liberian government to address issues relating to benefits the Government and Western Cluster owe them.

He expressed the belief that the planned protest is their only option because they have done everything within their power in appealing to the relevant ministries and agencies of government aimed at addressing their plights.

Speaking in an interview to a team of journalists on the campus of the William V.S. Tubman High School in Sinkor, Monrovia, on Monday, May 15, 2023, following a mass meeting, Mr. Mafarlon, described as inhumane and unbearable treatment being accorded the former employees of NIOC.

According to him, after the civil war, the company paid off all expatriates, including their plane tickets to their countries of origin, and the balance cash was deposited into the government`s account to settle payments of the local employees, till now, not a cent has been paid to any of the former local employees.

He said some of the former employees are now dying in abject poverty and when they noticed that the government has been delaying of making payment to them, a court action was taken against the government in the Debt Court in the 80s.

He said, the Debt Court, at the time, ruled in favor of the workers that their benefits, including 6% interest to every US$1 dollar be paid.

Mr. Marfarlon indicated that it was further revealed that for any company that would succeed NIOC, any upfront payment made to the government would be used to settle payments of all severance and other benefits of the workers from 1985 up to 2001. With that, out of 100%, only 1% of that was paid.

Speaking stressed that in an attempt to seek further redress, the group has officially filed a complaint to the International Community through the Embassies of the Government of the United States, Great Britain, Sweden, the Donor Community, including the World Bank Country Office, International Finance Corporation, and the African Development Bank, to intervene and avoid confrontations.

Mr. Marfarlon said it is frustrating to know that the untimely shutdown of the company on March 31, 1985, only to blame it on the low price of iron ore on the World Market, was a calculated plan to deny Liberia workers of severance and other benefits, thereby subjecting them to abject poverty and disease.

He further lamented that there are widows, children, and grandchildren of the former employees who are lingering across the country in abject poverty, some of whom that acquired their education under unbearable conditions and also some of their colleagues who were parents and grandparents have died out of frustration while expecting the government to pay us all after we have all outlived our usefulness working for the company over the years.

According to him, with the rising high cost of living in the country, former employees of the National Iron Ore Company, (NIOC) including their children and grandchildren, as well as their family members are finding it very difficult to survive due to government failure to seek their interest.

He also described living conditions of the former employees of the National Iron Ore Company, (NIOC) including their children and grandchildren, as well as their family members as unbearable because, according to him, it is worsening day by day.

He maintain that former employees of the then National Iron Ore Company (NIOC) will converge in Monrovia to protest against a Liberian government and the successor company that they believed owed them severance pay and other arrears.

He also said the over 1,820 former employees of the National Iron Ore Company, (NIOC) including their children and grandchildren, as well as their family members will not vote in the coming October 10, 2023, Legislative and Presidential elections due to the failure of the government to address issues relating to benefits Government and Western Cluster, an iron ore mining company, owed them despite many pleads.

The NIOC was principally owned by the Government of Liberia. It commenced mining operations in the 1960s and shut down mining and shipping operations in March 1985 due to the low price of ore on the international market.

By T.R Dixon

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