The management of Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) has succumbed to immense pressure from Representative Thomas Goshua concerning the company’s alleged violations of its concession agreement.
Representative Goshua brought the EPO (also known as LIBINC or Palm Bay) to book for what he referred to as clear violation of the concession agreement it has with the Government of Liberia.
Rep. Goshua, who knows the in and out of the entity given that he served there before, says it is regrettable that Liberians can barely get duly employed but foreign nationals are flooding in the system and paid hugely.
He told Whistleblower that his office and the people of his district will protest any attempt by the company to keep foreign nationals at the company in roles Liberians can ably perform.
He called on the Ministry of Labor to take seize of the matter and stop giving these foreign nationals work permits to operate in Liberia especially roles Liberians are capable of playing.
But the EPO has written Labor Minister Charles Gibson through its Country Head, Sashi Nambiar, to state that following a meeting held with Representative Goshua in the presence of Madam Hannah Macaulay, Deputy Minister for Men Power Planning, it has now agreed to advertise four positions within the next two weeks. EPO named the positions it intends to advertise as two positions for Assistant Plantation Managers and two positions for Superintendents. These are positions intitially set aside for some Chinese expatriates before the lawmaker alarmed.
The company further informed the Labor Minister that it was not its unwillingness to advertise the positions in question though Rep. Goshua is protesting that advertisement of the roles as expected should directly rule out the Chinese nationals.
The EPO blamed the situation on constraints faced by management in 2014 after five employees were driven out its employ and the district of which it operated simply because they were not from Grand Bassa and from the district. The EPO named the five persons driven as two Assistant Managers and three Supervisors.
The company made it known to the Labor Minister that it is its intention that any qualified Liberian can and should occupy any vacant advertised post regardless of county of origin.
Prior to the about-face from the company, Rep. Goshua said the EPO miserably reneged on 7.1, 7.3, 7.4, 8.1 8.2, 9.1, 9.2 amongst other segments of the agreement signed, thus leaving the people of the county completely out of touch with the company as foreigners take route within the foreign brand.
According to the lawmaker, the act of hiring expatriates and not training more Liberians or hiring qualified Liberians contravenes section 9.1 and 9.2 of the agreement.
The Grand Bassa lawmaker also frowned on plans by EPO or LIBINC to institute a new employment scheme that seems to have new expatriates hired within the company.
“I am taking serious exception to your decision to hire two additional expatriates whom you have brought in to serve in positions and perform duties that Liberians can ably handle to the standard the company so demands,” a communication to the Acting GM stated.
The lawmaker in his communication also stated that it is ‘Offensive to continuously keep these professional Liberians in their current positions or on contractual statuses for the most part of their services with LIBINC; something that contrasts the labor law and standards of Liberia.’
It was gathered that the EPO recently hired two Chinese to serve as Assistant Plantation Managers in different segments of the oil plantation while several qualified Liberians are completely left undone especially citizens of the Bassa belt.
The lawmaker said there is lack of key management portfolios including a media relations manager and government relations person, which the company says it is due to lack of funds but can hire foreign nationals for roles Liberians can do effectively.