GREENVILLE, Sinoe – Golden Veroleum Liberia, the oil palm giant operating plantations in Grand Kru and Sinoe, has decided to lay off 443 of its workforce.
On Saturday, the company’s communications officer, Alphanso Kofi, told The Bush Chicken that the move was a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the company had “decided to reduce its workforce both in Sinoe, Grand Kru, and [the] Monrovia office.”
“When things get improved in the future and in case of any vacancy and job opportunity, those [made] redundant will be given first priority,” Kofi added.
Instead of shutting down the company’s nationwide operations, he said the company decided to maintain a small workforce.
“While it is true that many people are complaining, the company feels that this is also important because we cannot keep people working all day long and when [the] month ends, we cannot pay or there are some delays,” he explained the company’s decision, noting that the move would allow the company to avoid violating labor laws.
As expected, workers were frustrated by the move. Some worried about finding new jobs in the current economic climate, given that many businesses have ceased operating or have put their operations on hold.
Amos Matthew, a field worker who has been with the company for nearly six years, worried about how he would now fend for his six children.
“I been working with GVL since 2014 and now that the company put me down without even telling me on time and with this Coronavirus business, [I worry about] how my family will eat and it’s really painful,” he said.
When contacted by The Bush Chicken for comment on Golden Veroleum’s decision, Rep. Crayton Oman Duncan said he would speak after he obtained enough information. Besides representing Sinoe’s first district, he also serves on the House Committee on Labor at the legislature.
Meanwhile, the labor commissioner for Sinoe, Christian Tabiabo, said he regretted that the company had to make such a decision, but noted that Golden Veroleum had alerted the government about financial issues and low production levels associated with COVID-19. He assured those being laid off that they would get the benefits they were entitled to under the labor law.
“Please be patient as we all look forward to the company,” he added.
Golden Veroleum is a major employer in Sinoe and Grand Kru, with over 4,200 employees. The company is also responsible for spending on development projects in the communities it operates in.
Featured photo courtesy of Golden Veroleum Liberia