A new report published by the Liberian-based Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU), has detailed a wide range of abuses occurring on a rubber plantation in Liberia owned by the Bridgestone Firestone tire company. It exposes poor living and working conditions for rubber tappers; meager pensions; barriers to educational and health access, water and air pollution; and violations of workers’ rights to organize, as enforced by security forces on the plantation.
Firestone has operated the world’s largest rubber plantation in Harbel, Liberia since 1926. According to the report, rubber tappers have to meet a daily production quota in order to receive their daily wage of just over three dollars per day. As a result of this unreasonably high quota, workers must bring family members to work with them or hire subcontractors using their meager salaries. Additionally, workers must carry two 75-pound buckets of raw latex on sticks on their shoulders and work without protective gear. Workers live in crowded shacks without electricity, running water, indoor latrines.
“After 82 years of exploitation masked by a massive public relations campaign, Firestone must be held accountable for its continued violations of worker rights and abuse of the environment.” said Emira Woods, co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of the article for Alternet which first led me to blog about Firestone’s abuses in Liberia. “Liberian workers and future generations need good corporate neighbors. Firestone can and must do better.”
Tim Newman, child labor campaigner at the International Labor Rights Forum added: “As the first independent and democratically elected union leaders on the plantation negotiate a new contract, it is important that Firestone take the demands of workers and their allies to heart. Eighty two years of exploitation is enough and the time is now for a new day on Firestone’s rubber plantation in Liberia.”