Heavy Loads Lifted from Tappers’ Backs
The United Steelworkers (USW) today congratulated the Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia (FAWUL) on achieving a new collective bargaining agreement at the Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia. The agreement contains a landmark provision to change the method of transporting latex to weigh stations.
“Since 1926, rubber tappers have carried a heavy load across their backs for miles,” said Fred Redmond, USW International Vice President for Human Affairs “FAWUL has achieved an historic change by negotiating a new motorized transport system. It’s a milestone for its members and a major victory for human rights. We need now to make sure that the agreement is enforced and extended to every corner of the plantation.”
In the new agreement, the union has negotiated a commitment to “change the current mode of transportation.” For more than 80 years, rubber tappers were forced to carry two metal buckets, weighing up to 150 pounds, suspended from a stick across their shoulders. Tappers carried these heavy loads to weigh stations which in some areas were miles away. According to rubber tappers and human rights observers, this out-dated method of transportation took a severe toll on workers’ health, leading to a variety of debilitating injuries ... more