Firestone Liberia, an indirect subsidiary of Bridgestone Americas Inc. Thursday confirmed to Liberian authorities that it has planned to leave the country or put its investment on sale after losing more than US$200million for a little over 10 consecutive years.
The company Monday said it would reduce its workforce by 13%, which is approximately 800 employees by early April end June 2019 and that even the mass layoff of employees would not be sufficient to improve the company’s weak financial position.
Its Rubberwood plant has been shutdown after a USD $16 million investment proves not viable for the company, a Ministry of Information statement said Thursday.
“As a result, the company plans to sell the business or shut it down totally”, the statement said as authorities request a negotiated settlement that will prevent or delay the planned layoffs.
“The Government proposed to work with Firestone to address concerns about its current business model. In response, the Management of Firestone informed the Government that the company has incurred losses of around USD $20 million annually for the past 10 or more years and is at a point where the situation can no longer be sustained.”
Firestone latest layoff and likely departure news has sent shockwaves across the country as Liberia experiences its worst economic decline post Ebola.
With a little over 6,000 workforce, Since 2004 Firestone has injected more than $1 billion USD into the Liberian economy through government taxes, salaries and pensions, local purchases and rubber purchases from local farmers, and has spent over $75 million in providing free education, healthcare, housing and security.
– Festus Poquie