The government’s call follows two days of dialogue among citizens of the community, workers union and the Management of Bea Mountain as well as lawmakers of the county held at the Ministry of Labour in Congo Town, outside Monrovia.
Government negotiating team is headed by Labour Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson and Co-chaired by Justice Minister, Cllr. Musa Dean. Other members are Lands Mines Minister, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) boss, Prof. Wilson Tarpeh, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Bureau of Concession. Also at the discussion were the Senate Committee Chairman of Labour, Committee Chair on Concession and the Committee Chair on Lands and Mines, amongst others.
During the discussion, the Cctizens and workers presented a 14- count petition to the government for consideration by the Bea Mountain Management.
In a statement on behalf of the government mediation team, Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson said that whatever agreement reached at the end of the intervention will be guided by a compliance mechanism, which will include penalties for breach as well as commissioning monitoring committee.
He said that a committee will be set up with management and community representations under the supervision of the Bureau of Concession to work with the Ministry of Lands and Mines and the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) to access the records of the company from 2009 to current, to establish what constitutes the 2% that should have been paid to the community as exploration benefit.
He noted that a technical committee will also be set up comprising of the EPA, MOL, Bureau of Concession, the citizens and workers Union to move in and verified the impact of the mining activities on the citizens and residents homes and other infrastructures.
The Labour Minister said that this committee will be required to take pictures, conduct interviews with citizens and catalogue all of the impact and effects on the community. They will also go to the underground mining site to establish whether there is sufficient safety mechanism in place and safety gears for the workers; look at the laboratory to see whether workers there are not being exposed to harmful chemicals.
He assured the citizens and workers that the Ministry of Labour is determined to ensure that no casual workers will go underground. He said that effective immediately, all casual workers are now considered contractors at the company.
The government’s mediation team requested the Management of Bea Mountain to show from now to Friday, December 21, 2022, an Insurance Company that they have identified to provide injuries and death insurance coverage for all those who go underground both Liberians and non-Liberians.
Speaking further, Minister Gibson vowed to ensure that those going underground are well paid and promised that Labour Inspectors will be sent to the company to investigate all labour related issues outlined in the citizens and workers petition. Minister added that he will work to ensure that a labour inspectorate is posted at the company permanently to monitor the full implementation of the Labour law.
In closing, Minister Gibson told the Citizens of Cape Mount and the workers of Bea Mountain that President Weah is in full support to ensure workers right are respected and protected by investors operating in Liberia.
Earlier, Justice Minister Cllr. Musu Dean said that it is the obligation of all parties to ensure that the Company operations is peaceful noting that it is a win win situation and as such, the use of country devil must be the last option.
He noted that the problem of local community versus investors are global issues and called on the citizens and workers to look up to the government for the peaceful and amicable settlement of the situation.
In remarks, the Management of Bea Mountain thanked the GoL for their timely intervention in ensuring that the workers return to work.
They promised to remain committed to all agreements and to cooperate with the government to remedy the situation.
For their part, the community through their leaders also commended the government for the role played in bringing them and Bea Mountain Management together to discuss situations affecting the relationship between the two.