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-Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods Asserts
Former Labor and Public Works Minister, Attorney Samuel Kofi Woods, has lamented the appalling conditions of Liberian workers, saying they continue to suffer the wrath of poverty despite being the engine of production in the country.

Serving as keynote speaker at the induction ceremony of officers of the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), Attorney Woods said it was his thesis that workers in Liberia continue to suffer the wrath of poverty and treated with a large measure of disdain because they have failed to organize, refused to come together into strong labor movements rather than small, briefcase labor organizations.

The former Labour Minister cautioned members of the sector that they will not have the force if they don’t come together to transform the sector and make workers proud.

According to him, no government responsive, no minister however patriotic can offer them the dignity they deserve if they are not organized, adding “by organizing and building institutions larger than themselves and individual egos that will provide the freedom and dignity they deserve.”

“Until you organize ourselves, until you focus on building strong union federations and strong solidarities, your real potentials cannot be realized. It is only when we organize that we are able to build power and to change our conditions,” the former minister said.

Attorney Woods recounted the explosion at the Liberia Agriculture Company (LAC) where six Liberian workers lost their lives.

If members of the labour sector were organized and united, he said, they would have pushed the case forward for victims to get their just benefits.

LAC, according to the Liberian Government’s investigation in the explosion incident, reconfigured a rubber processing equipment so as to speed up production, knowing that an explosion could result.

The Company reportedly failed to implement basic safety standards such as having marked emergency exits. As a result, six workers were killed.

Woods said in other places, LAC would have paid millions to workers, but in Liberia with allegations of government’s complicity, workers disorganization and community intimidation, LAC did not pay its full share, noting “an organized and strong workers union would have advocated for more than what LAC offered.”

“When we organize, we build power and we put ourselves in a better position to get what we want. If we fail to organize, we are doing our families and ourselves a dis-service.”

“We will be unable to engage in collective bargaining, to strike or to engage in other forms of mutual aid and, consequently we will not be able to get the economic and social benefits- the pay, the healthcare, the right working conditions, and the dignity and respect that we deserve,” he added.

For his part, the newly inducted President of the Liberia Labour Congress, Alfred B.Z Summerville assured the abolition of what he calls handbag unions and vowed to organize a strong union in the country.

“We cannot continue to be begging, this is making us weak in the country. We will work to have collective bargaining agreement for us. We will not encourage one man’s union,” he concluded.

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