Former NIOC Workers Ready To Take Action

By Victor C. Hanson, Jr. (Cub Reporter)

Former employees of the National Iron Ore Company (NIOC) have threatened to take fierce action against the Government of Liberia for the unprecedented delay in settling their benefits.

In an interview with NIOC General Chairman, James T. Mafarlon, he said that apart from the payment of their severance and other benefits, Western Cluster Iron Ore Mining Company will not carry on any employment peacefully, and they will disturb from Mano River, Bomi, and end at their main office in Sinkor, Monrovia.

Chairman Mafarlon added that there are more than 1,820 men and that the ERU should get ready to manhandle them as usual having read the maltreatments of GOL over the years, against the 1,820 former employees of NIOC in Grand Cape Mount County.

He stated further that it can be recalled that NIOC, that once operated in Grand Cape Mount County from 1959 to 1985, was 85 percent owned by GOL but when the military government of Samuel K. Doe took over the country, the company was still operating but on low budget.

Chairman Mafarlon said that the company then decided to suspend operations until GOL can be financially strengthened, to offer her portion of financial support for the operation to continue, but the government was unable to do so.

Chairman Mafarlon expressed that the company then suggested to pay every employee off, but GOL suggested or mandated the company to only pay expatriates including their plane tickets to go home, and the remaining funds for payment was turned over to government who failed to pay any Liberian employee, promising that a company will soon take over to re-open.

Chairman Mafarlon narrated that they (employees) should be patient until any company that takes over from NIOC and upfront payment, the benefits of the workers would be paid, and in 2011 they witnessed that signing ceremony of Western Cluster, who presented a cheque of US$ 40.5 million to GOL.

He then said that because of government’s failure to honor their own written promise to the former workers through their legal counsel, went to court for the second time since 1985; again the court ruled against GOL, and in order to create another delay strategy, GOL has again referred the very case back to the People’s Debt court, and since it was the court that ruled in favor of the employees in 1985, GOL therefore suggested that the Debt Court do the enforcement.

Chairman Mafarlon stated that what appears to be very frustrating now is that the physical cash was made available by Western Cluster Company but GOL has not yet paid this money to date since the signing in 2011.