ON FRIDAY OF last Week, two Chinese companies operating in the country expressed their commitment in ensuring that durable roads are constructed and vowed to contribute meaningfully to the country’s reconstruction efforts. The two Chinese companies did not only express their commitment to doing a good job in the rehabilitation and construction of roads in the country but vehemently denied reports of bad labor practices within their ranks and file.
EXECUTIVES OF THE two companies told newsmen that they are operating in line with the country’s labor laws, despite persistent reports that they are underpaying their employees without any benefits. The CICO and CHICO Executives further disclosed that despite the Liberian Labor Law setting a minimum wage of a laborer at US$0.25, they are paying their employees a minimum of US$0. 35 along with housing allowance, medical benefits coupled with capacity building efforts that are helping Liberians acquire the requisite training and education in the field of engineering and public health.
BEING INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES, the two entities rejected report of bad labor practices something which is sending negative signals to their oversea offices and bringing their names to public disrepute as they strive to do excellent job and maintain a place within the global corporate community. The General Manager of CICO, Mr. Fu Liang Quan told journalists during the Friday Press Conference that in the past few months, the two companies were publicly accused of bad labor practices towards Liberian employees and despite clarifications through several newspapers, the accusation still remains.
CHICO’S ADMINISTRATOR AND Media Relation Officer, Mr. Joseph N. N. Swen also told the conference that since CHICO’s inception in Liberia in 2007, the company has significantly served as a true partner in the rebuilding of the war-torn Liberia. He said due to CHICO’s professional design capacity, strong technology and outstanding construction expertise and its liberalization policy of prioritizing the total involvement of its Liberian Staff, CHICO has become a household name in the construction, engineering and infrastructural business area in Liberia.
MR. SWEN FURTHER said CHICO, being the best amongst the rest in road construction, continues to embark on innumerable projects and stressed that CHICO has timely completed the Highway between Cotton Tree to Buchanan City and at the verge of completion are the SKD Boulevard and Clara Town projects. The CHICO Executive said with the standard of professionalism and modernization, CHICO has applied on the various projects, there is no doubt Liberians would wish CHICO wins and be contracted for all future road projects in the Country. “Evident to this, Liberians and their development partners could not hold back their sentiment of satisfaction when CHICO partook and eventually announced as the winner (Lowest Evaluated and Responsive Bidder) of the bidding process of the Gbarnga-Ganta-Guinea Road Rehabilitation and the Caldwall Bridge Construction Projects respectively within the period of one month,” the CHICO Media relation head said.
TOUCHING ON THE company’s Corporate-Social Responsibility, Mr. Swen said due to its post-war infrastructural development, the Society for the Promotion of Peace, National Reconciliation and Reunification in Liberia, a pro-democracy peace building civil organization recognized the massive contribution CHICO continues to make in Liberia, and awarded CHICO a Certificate of Recognition. He also noted that Beijing River of Grace International Church appreciated and awarded CHICO for their partnership in helping the Children of Faith Orphanage in Grand Bassa Country, Liberia.
WITH ALL OF these unique explanations coming from the two development partners who are seriously engaged in an endeavor that is labor intensive, coupled with these persistent allegations of ‘bad labor practices’ there is a need to set up an ‘Independent Board of Inquiry’ that could get to the crux of the matter and put it to rest once and for all. Such a board could also establish whether there is a conspiracy against the two companies by their competitors and if those accusing the two entities are saying the truth or their accusations are designed only because they are not winning contracts as compared to the two or whether the two companies’ employees are being underpaid.
IT IS IN this regard that we are appealing to the Ministries of Labor and Public Works to institute such a board to investigate these accusations and come up with a finding that c ould put things in their right perspective so as to fast-track the construction of our damaged roads and infrastructures. On a serious note; we urge that board to also unearth the sources of these allegations.