Firestone’s Liberian plant laying off 800 workers

March 21, 2019

Firestone Natural Rubber Company – the biggest employer in Liberia’s private sector – will be laying off 13% of its workforce or around 800 Liberian employees over the second quarter of 2019. Headcount reductions will include retirements, the discontinuation of certain work contracts, and redundancies.

The pronouncement comes as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced a steep slump in Liberia’s economic growth – dropping to just 0.4% in 2019. Inflation is instead reportedly skyrocketing.

Firestone started reducing production at its rubber wood factory last September in response to falling rubber prices. The company operates the world’s largest single natural rubber plantation in Liberia and states the lay-offs are “necessary due to continued and unsustainable losses resulting from high overhead costs associated with the company’s concession agreement with the government of Liberia, low natural rubber production because of the country’s prolonged civil wars and continued low global natural rubber prices,” says the firm.

Global rubber prices have fallen by more than 40% since January 2017 and are now only slightly above historic lows. Firestone most recently laid off over 400 workers in 2016, crediting the decision to falling rubber prices.

Firestone, an indirect subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas, signed a 99-year contract with the Liberian government in 1926. Its plantation covers almost 200 square miles east of the capital Monrovia. The latest lay-off poses a significant risk to the growth prospects of a degrading economy in West Africa.


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Rubber Prices
(Last Updated: 10 June 2019)

Monthly The prices shown above do not include VAT @4% on purchase and expenses towards packing, transportation, warehousing  and other incidentals

Source: Latex India
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