GREENVILLE, Sinoe – Oil palm company Golden Veroleum says it is going through a process of rationalizing its workforce that could leave about 250 employees without jobs.
According to a statement from Alphonso S. Kofi, the company’s communications coordinator, the rationalization is necessary because of the numerous economic challenges the company has been facing over the years. These challenges have been made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic, he said.
Kofi said the exercise would affect various departments of the company, but it would allow it to adapt to the changing global market.
“The reduction of workforce that is in full consultation with the affected workers, the workers’ union, and the Ministry of Labor becomes necessary to sustain,” he explained.
The lay-offs are in addition to a May 2020 exercise that saw 443 employees lose their jobs because of impacts from COVID-19.
He noted that for this rationalization exercise, about 52 percent of the employees who would be laid off had volunteered to be made redundant. Some cited family problems and the need to pursue further studies as a reason for taking advantage of the company’s offer, Kofi said.
The communications coordinator also said Golden Veroleum had concluded talks with the Ministry of Labor, the workers’ union, community representatives, and that the process was adhering to the laws and regulations of Liberia. These include the Decent Work Act of 2015 and the collective bargaining agreement with the Golden Veroleum Agriculture Workers’ Union of Liberia.
Kofi expects that “employees who are affected by this redundancy may be prioritized for re-employment, taking into account skills, capabilities, and productivity requirements.”
Kofi said prior to this decision, the company had been employing, training, and preparing employees for deployment as it expands. However, expansion has not been possible over the past four years, and continuing to pay salaries for employees who could not be deployed in areas they were trained to work would cost the company more than it could bear.
Kofi’s statement notes that Golden Veroleum’s growth plans were initially affected by land disputes, before most recently being affected by COVID-19, which has forced many companies in Liberia and elsewhere to reduce their costs or close down.
Despite the economic challenges, Kofi disclosed the company’s plans for a joint venture with Golden Sifca Inc. to operate an oil palm processing mill in Maryland to help overcome the constraints of transporting fresh fruit bunches from its plantations in Grand Kru to its current Tarjuowon Mill in Sinoe.
Golden Veroleum says it has infused a significant amount of money into the Liberian economy through government taxes, salaries, and local purchases. To date, the company says it has spent over US$20 million in providing free education, healthcare, housing, security support, and other corporate social responsibility activities at local, county, and national levels.
Featured photo courtesy of Golden Veroleum Liberia