Viewing page 5 of 19
It looks like you're using a mobile device. We recommend using a physical keyboard for transcription entry.
and thereby were compelled to return shamefully to the old jobs under the old regime of receiving only 1/6 each per round trip. Forced Labour For Firestone Again, when the Firestone Plantations Company first came to Liberia, they proposed to pay their labourers who are recruited forcibly by governmental orders - the sum of 4/- each day, quite 300% more than the ordinary wages earned by unskilled workers in Liberia. This system or proposal was flatfootedly opposed by the officials, on the ground that it would be detrimental to the interest of the government which at the time knew nothing about paying labourers, and they assured the Company that labour would be easily procured without spending such a "heavy" sum of money. It should be here remembered that at this period forced labour was in its bloom in Liberia. The point is, Firestone Company would have induced every man to work on the rubber plantations, and there would remain not sufficient natives in the Hinterland to be coercively [[image]] Forced labour on Firestone plantation in Liberia. Natives bringing in raw rubber made to work on government or public roads and private farms of officials without pay. As a result of the opposition, Firestone Company began to pay their labourers at the rate of 22 and 24 cents per diem for ordinary labourers and headmen respectively. This small wages is all consumed by each labourer in food, which must be bought from the Firestone Store at Du. No. 1, at the rate of 6 cents per cigarette cup of rice, and at 1/- per lb. of stockfish. The African worker cannot live without rice. Consequently, sometimes at the end of the month each labourer ascertains that he has not more than 5/- or even less. The Government apparently sanctions this inhumane practice, because the Company is "generous" in lending occasional financial assistance to Government officials whenever they ask for it. It is to be pitied, however, that the Government loses sight of the very important fact that, the bulk of its revenue, nearly 98% of the whole lot, is directly from hut tax exactions from the natives who constitute the majority of Firestone's labour group. 6 Oppressive Taxation. Workers in Liberia are given no consideration, whether or not they are working for the government itself. Their wages are incredibly small, and yet, even that is withheld for about 8 to 10 consecutive months, except the recently formed sanitary group. There have, in consequence of this staving laxity in payment, occured in the City of Monrovia incidents where police men fell fainted in the streets as a result of hunger - some of them not eating for days, except raw cassava which is not hard to find - because they have no money to pay for rice or the food required to keep them upon their feet. Despite this wretched condition of the workers (natives) the government uncompromisingly insists that they pay their taxes, even if doing so they have to pawn their clothes. Another reason why some of the natives cannot pay their taxes is that the capitalists (firms) absolutely refuse to buy piassava which is the only source of revenue for certain sections of the country; and also because said firms offer only 3 to 4 cents for a pound of coffee - a fact which causes many of the coffee owning natives to store up their coffee until such time as they will be offered better prices, so that after paying the taxes they themselves might have money left for their up-keep. On the other hand, there are some of the toilers who live exclusively on serving as stevedores on board of cargo steamers which at call Liberian ports very seldom. Upon their return from such services, during which they earn each, sometimes, about 70/- or less, some four or five different taxes are exacted from them by the Government, so that any one who is unfortunate enough in not getting employment on board of another vessel shortly after his [[image]] Firestone factory at Akron, Ohio, U.S.A. where Liberian rubber is manufactured into motor car tyres 7
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.