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The Legislative Delegation upon arrival at the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC) The Legislative Delegation upon arrival at the Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC)

Over failure to provide safety materials for employees working in Chemical Arears, Lawmakers unhappy with Management of Bea Mountain Featured

A high-powered Legislative Delegation comprising of seven lawmakers from the House of Representatives visited the operational site of Bea Mountain Mining Corporation (BMMC) on Wednesday and Thursday, October 12-13, 2022 with lawmakers expressing displeasure over the company’s failure to provide safety materials for employees working in chemical areas and lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) among others.

Members of the delegation included Grand Bassa Electoral District #4 Representative ,Vincent T. Willie, Chairman on the House's Committee of Mines and Energy, Grand Bassa Electoral District #3 Representative, Matthew Joe, Nimba County Electoral District #1 Representative, Samuel Brown, Montserrado County Electoral District #15 Representative, Abu Kamara, Nimba County Electoral District #6 Representative, Dorwon T. Gleekia, Margibi County Electoral District #2 Representative, Ivan Jones and Gbarpolu County Electoral District #1 Representative Alfred Koiwood.

The visit, according to a press statement from the Press and Public Affairs Bureau of the House of Representatives, was a follow up to a recent assessment by the House of Representatives to ascertain if the Management of Bea Mountain is living up to the Mineral Development Agreement (MDA) signed with the Government of Liberia(GoL)and the cancellation of casual workers exceeding six (6) months without observing the Decent Work Act of Liberia 2015 (DWA), among others.

Despite a signed MDA with the GoL, there have been numerous unresolved issues at BMMC including salary disparities, workers’ welfare issues and lack of a well-defined employment status for some workers, something which prompted the lawmakers’ visitation on the command of House Speaker Bhofol Chambers.

In a brief chat with the Management of Bea Mountain, the Head of delegation, Representative Vincent Willie, told the gathering that the Committee was mandated by Speaker Chambers to establish if the issues of labor violation, among others as raised by the workers union were being addressed by the Management of BMMC.

The Grand Bassa County lawmaker furthered that the issue of Liberians in top managerial positions was a serious concern to members of the House, as well as salary disparities between Liberians and foreign Nationals. During the tour on the mine, the representatives also frowned at the management of BMMC for not providing safety materials for employees working in chemical areas and lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) among others.

While on the tour, the workers, who are working underground, also informed the lawmakers that the company is still in gross violation of basic labor practices.

They workers told the lawmakers about unfair treatment including include the lack of insurance, long stay on daily hire and short-term contracts for years, low salaries and many others by the management of BMMC on a daily basis, contrary to the MDA.

Upon hearing their concerns, the lawmakers asked the BMMC Management to carry on a sight-seeing to the underground mining site to acquaint themselves with the alleged unfair working conditions of the workers, but the company’s Country General Manager, Debar Allen, refused because the under-ground team was ready to carry on blasting and that anyone entering there was not safe.

He pointed out that the safety of the lawmakers could not be assured by the company due to the blast. But his paper reliably gathered that the information provided was otherwise misleading.

A ‘Daily Attendance Sheet’ presented to this paper indicated that all 23 workers underground team were out of duty when the lawmakers arrived on the site.

Accordingly, upon the denial, the House Committee Chair on Mines and Energy Willie called on the management of BMMC to provide some tangible documents including staff payroll for both locals and expatriates, job mapping table, NASSCORP Tax Remittance Documents, CVs and other Credentials for Supervisors, Superintendents, Department Heads and Managers among others.

And on the back of Chairman Willie’s request, BMMC Country Manager, Mr. Allen, refused, saying those information for the workers could not be shared because they are confidential, a response angered the House Mines and Energy Committee Chair.

On the overall vast majority of the lawmakers were not happy with the noncompliance behavior from BMMC management, on the refusal to submit important documents to the committee and also improve on poor housing facility, good health care for the workforce.

For his part, the Chairman of the Workers Union, Samuel G. Robert, thanked the lawmakers for the visit.

He disclosed that the union looks forward to the Rep. Vincent Willie and team for a speedy outcome of their facts finding while visiting the BMMC.

The BMMC Workers Union Chairman also noted that the right things must be done in line with the Decent Work Act of Liberia, including other agreements entered into by BMMC and the Workers Union.

 

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