National Day of Action on Liberia’s Independence Day Urges Tire Giant to End Child Labor and Improve Conditions on Liberian Rubber Plantation
Washington, DC - To mark Liberia’s Independence Day, Liberian-Americans and concerned consumers from 36
states are joining Friends of the Earth, International Labor Rights Fund, Institute for Policy Studies, TransAfrica
Forum and other members of the Stop Firestone Coalition in telling Firestone that “80 years of exploitation is enough.” As part of the first national day of action organized by the Stop Firestone Coalition, participants will be delivering letters to Firestone Complete Auto Care in Wheaton, MD and to retailers across the country in an effort to
urge the tire giant to end its long history of perpetuating slave-like conditions on its rubber plantation in Liberia.
The letters—addressed to store managers and to Firestone Rubber president Dan Adomitis—detail citizens’ concerns over the slave-like conditions practiced in the operations of an American icon like Firestone. Among other things, the letters describe how Firestone has built its record profits on the backs of Liberia’s poor.
“For 80 years the people and environment of Liberia have been abused,” said Emira Woods, a Liberian-American and co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. “It’s an outrage. Such an American icon must be a more responsible corporate citizen.”
“On the Firestone rubber plantation, instead of camp or school, children endure long summers of forced labor.
Children wake up each day at 4:30 am to ‘help’ their parents tap rubber trees, spray pesticides, and haul heavy buckets of rubber up to two miles each day,” said Bama Athreya, director of the International Labor Rights Fund. “Children belong in school, not working the plantation.”
The Stop Firestone Coalition is additionally concerned that environmental damage caused by the use of harmful chemicals and the untreated run-off from Firestone’s operations into adjacent rivers is having health implications on communities around the plantation. “Kids on the plantation drink, bathe and swim in the Farmington River while
watching the Firestone factory dump its waste on the opposite river banks,” said Elizabeth Bast, international policy analyst at Friends of the Earth. “Firestone’s tradition of exploitation has endured far too long.”
A detailed list of the coalition’s demands of Firestone is available at http://www.stopfirestone.org/demands.shtml.
Friends of the Earth is the U. S. voice of the world’s largest network of environmental groups with one million supporters in
70 countries across five continents. www.foe.org.
International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) is an advocacy organization dedicated to achieving just and humane treatment
for workers worldwide. www.laborrights.org
Institute for Policy Studies strengthens social movements with independent research, visionary thinking, and links to the
grassroots, scholars and elected officials. Since 1963, it has empowered people to build healthy and democratic societies in
communities, the U.S., and the world. www.ips-dc.org
TransAfrica Forum is a major research, educational, and organizing institution for the African-American community
focusing on conditions in the African World. www.transafricaforum.org
For more information and background on the international Stop Firestone Coalition, visit www.stopfirestone.org