APM Terminals, Dock Workers’ Union Sign MOU

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The management of the APM Terminals Liberia Ltd and the Dock Workers’ Union of Liberia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) bringing to close a long-standing labor dispute between the employees of the APM Terminals Liberia, represented by its Dock Workers Union (DOWUL), and the management.

   The ceremony, which took place on Monday, September 27, 2021 in the conference room of the Ministry of Labor in Monrovia, was graced by the management of APM Terminals Liberia, headed by its Managing Director, Jonathan Graham, the workers, represented by DOWUL, and officials of the Ministry of Labor, led by Minister Charles H. Gibson.  

   The MOU was signed by Jonathan Graham on behalf of the management, Jackie N. W. Doe, President of DOWUL signed for the Workers, while Assistant Labor Minister for Trade Union and Social Dialogue, Gonsan-Zeo P. Mensah, witnessed on behalf of the ministry. Assist. Min. Mensah was the head of the MOL negotiation team that helped to arrive at the MOU.

   Speaking during signing the ceremony, Labor Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, said that the MOU entered by the APM Terminals management and workers provides a lot of soft spots to define the relationship between workers and management on how they should henceforth address issues where there is disagreement pending between them.

   The Labor Minister used the occasion to highlight the role of the Ministry of Labor in resolving labor disputes in the country. He said that the Ministry respects workers and protects their rights, but also has the duty of ensuring that the investor investment is not in jeopardy adding that without an employer, there will be no employee. He said further that his Ministry will work to ensure a balance in regulating relationship between employers and employees.

   Minister Gibson however noted that in the process of ensuring a balance, the Ministry sometimes gets misinterpreted, at one point by the workers and another by the management.

   He maintained that as a regulatory arm of government, the Ministry of Labor must focus on the rules and will always encourage social dialogue. He assured the parties that the Ministry of Labor will always be available and look forward to a smooth implementation of all that have been agreed to by the management and the workers in the MOU.

   Minister Gibson described the new Managing Director of the APM Terminals Liberia, Jonathan Graham, as a visionary who sees things differently. He said that since his arrival, he has been engaging the Ministry and Management team positively and those other issues that have not been passed on by the court are being addressed in the MOU. He expressed happiness that all the six counts derived by the Ministry ruling are all being addressed in the MOU. The MOU also provides that pending its signing and implementation, the lawyers of APM Terminals Liberia will formerly withdraw their appeal against the Ministry’s ruling from the Labor Court.

   He hailed the MOU and said that the Ministry will take it as a model for other entities to emanate in that outside of the Ministry of Labor, parties can sit and negotiate an agreement that resolved almost all of the issues, noting that there will be issues but this MOU also provides the mechanism on how other issues that may come about in the future can be addressed.

   Concluding, the Labor Minister informed the management of the APM Terminals Liberia, “There are other matters that do not border on labor, but are concerns of some in the Legislature and the Executive as it relates to the implementation of the current agreement between the Company and Government of Liberia (GOL). I am confident that with your style of leadership, that issue will be addressed, and the concerns will be addressed fairly and amicably. Because it is important that, if I do not agree with you, I must understand what your disagreements are and respect it.  

   For his part, the Managing Director of APM Terminals Liberia, Jonathan Graham, thanked the Minister and the Ministry for the support and guidance to all the parties during the negotiation. He also thanked the DOWUL leadership and his team for the manner and form through which they derived at a peaceful signing of the MOU. He promised to ensure the adherence to the full implementation of the MOU.

   Also speaking during the ceremony, DOWUL President, Jackie N. W. Doe, praised the leadership of the Ministry of Labor under the watch of Cllr. Charles H. Gibson for the level of intervention in bringing the long-running dispute between the management and workers of APM Terminals Liberia to an amicable end, in the interest of industrial peace and harmony.

   She described the relationship between the two as social partners who are working to move the country forward, and not enemies. She also praised the new Managing Director, Jonathan Graham, and the team of the company and said that she looks forward to a smooth implementation of the MOU.

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