Firestone Staff Stopped From Collecting for Liberian Workers
The United Steel Workers (USW) has angrily denounced the management of Bridgestone Firestone’s LaVergne, Tennessee plant for preventing members from collecting cash to help workers in Liberia. The USW said Liberian workers were struggling to provide for their families and accused the manufacturer of “human rights violations.”
“Gate collections are fairly common at the plant,” said Lewis Beck, USW Local 1055 president. “We’ve stood for years at the same locations collecting for members who are ill or other locals on strike.” Local 1055 is the first of eight USW-represented locals scheduled to participate in the gate collections for the Liberia workers. A USW statement said: “Over there (Liberia) BFS workers labour from dawn to dusk and receive about $3 as a daily wage.”
According to the statement, last year a USW delegation travelled to Liberia and met with the workers. “They witnessed numerous human rights violations, including the use of child labour. When the strike was called, the rubber tree tappers and other labourers cited unsafe and unsanitary working conditions, inadequate healthcare and flagrant discrimination, in addition to poor wages,” the statement read.
“Situations like today remind me why our contract negotiations are so difficult,” said Lewis Beck. “I think the company sometimes forgets that its workers are people trying to take good care of their families.”
Bridgestone/Firestone representatives recently told Tyres & Accessories that the company denies all accusations of alleged child and slave labour.