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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Firestone's Labor Policy, 1924-1939
Author:Knoll, Arthur J.
Periodical:Liberian Studies Journal
Geographic term:Liberia
labour recruitment
History and Exploration
Labor and Employment
Economics and Trade
Abstract:Harvey S. Firestone, Sr. chose Liberia for his Firestone Plantations Company because he was convinced that labour there would be both cheap and available. The rubber company commenced operations in 1926. First, problems in the early recruitment of labour in the period 1924-1930 are examined. After a discussion of the forced labour scandal (1929-1934) and the role in this of the Firestone Plantations Company, Firestone's relation with the Liberian elite is discussed. The elite and Firestone had common needs. Both were dependent upon the labourers furnished by traditional society for the success of their endeavours. Finally, the development of Firestone's labour policy in the period 1934-1939 is examined. The pattern of recruitment developed by Firestone reached its classic form in the 1930s and persisted to the 1960s. Firestone went directly to the source, the village, for manpower. Here company labour recruiters dealt directly with clan and paramount chiefs, who were compensated for the loss of local labourers in either coin or kind. Unquestionably Firestone's recruitment plan opened the door to coercion. The perceptions of labour entertained by government and company differed, notably thier perceptions of wages, which President Barclay thought too low. However, Barclay surrendered to Firestone's wishes. It is concluded that, although the company should have paid its workers much more, Firestone was neither a brutal employer nor one that utilized forced labour. Notes, ref.