Firestone response to SAMFU report

On Monday, August 4 a woman from a PR company in Washington, DC sent me an email with Firestone’s response to the Save My Future Foundation report on Firestone’s activities in Liberia.

If only Firestone paid as much attention to working conditions on its Liberia plantations as it did to blog postings that mention Firestone…

Some of the arguments below are legitimate. But I emailed the PR woman a follow-up question on one of the more contentious claims that, “The implication that adult employer must bring their children to work in order to complete their daily tasks is false.” It has been three days, and she hasn’t responded.

Below are some excerpts from Firestone’s response. If you would like the whole response, email me and I can send you a copy.

The recently released document by the Save My Future Foundation (SAMFU) contains a host of inaccurate statements and unfounded allegations. This is disturbing since, in January 2008, Firestone provided SAMFU with a significant amount of information about its operations, at SAMFU’s request, that would have provided the basis for a much more balanced and accurate report. Unfortunately, it appears that SAMFU chose to ignore or disregard that information. Even more disturbing is the complete falsehood contained in the introduction to its report that Firestone Liberia did not respond to SAMFU’s request for information. That blatantly false statement should cause any reader to call into question the accuracy of the rest of the report, and the bias of the SAMFU leadership itself.

…the company has completed a new environmental process water filtration system, which is now in operation. No factory process water is sent to the adjoining Farmington River. These are just a few of the many accomplishments for which Firestone is justifiably proud, made possible by revised investment agreements.

To be clear, Firestone Liberia has a zero-tolerance policy against child labor, which is communicated to its employees and enforced. The policy of hiring only workers who are at least 18 years of age actually exceeds the Liberian labor law requirements by two years.

The implication that adult employees must bring their children to work in order to complete their daily tasks is false. The typical employee works about eight to 10 hours a day, a reasonable shift for one employee to complete by himself. The workday and other working conditions are set in a collective bargaining agreement between the company and the labor union and its freely elected leadership that represents the employees.

Rather than debate the inaccuracies and false statements contained in the SAMFU document, and since SAMFU has decided to ignore the remarkable progress Firestone has made since the end of the war, we choose not to engage with that organization. Instead, we will be focusing our efforts on continuing our progress in rebuilding our operations and helping to rebuild Liberia.

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