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August 07, 2008

Firestone to increase Liberian rubber plantation workers' wages by 20%

Firestone Tire & Rubber Co's Liberian rubber plantation, one of the world's largest, will increase workers' pay by 19.5 percent, backdated to January last year, a union official said.

The accord, the first to be signed by Firestone with its workers in Liberia in the 80 years it has operated in the west African country, comes after several strikes over pay and conditions, said Edwin Cisco, the secretary-general of the company's workers union, in the capital, Monrovia.

Wages of the lowest-paid workers will increase 24 percent over three years, while the company has undertaken to improve working and living conditions and upgrade its primary school to secondary-school level, he said.

Firestone welcomes the agreement and will implement all its provisions to ensure industrial harmony and boost productivity, said Charles Stuart, the company's general manager in Liberia.

Liberia is Africa's second-biggest producer of rubber, after Ivory Coast, generating about a quarter of the continent's annual output of 421,300 metric tons, according to the International Rubber Study Group.


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