Nashville, Tennessee – Bridgestone has rejected what it describes as “unsupported and damaging” allegations against the labour and environmental practices of its subsidiary Firestone Liberia.
In a statement supplied by Bridgestone Americas to ERJ, the company dismissed claims in a report by Mighty Earth documenting “serious labour and environmental concerns” at Firestone Rubber Plantation in Harbel, Liberia.
The report issued 11 Feb, included complaints from local people about contamination of water and “serious air pollution” due to the activities at what it said was the world’s single largest rubber plantation.
In addition, the report said that key labour union leaders and workers at the Firestone Liberia plantation in Harbel had been allegedly unfairly dismissed by Firestone without recourse.
“Bridgestone needs to agree to an independent investigation and make amends for their unfair dismissal of the two key union leaders,” said Judy Gearhart, executive director of the non-profit organisation International Labor Rights Forum in the Mighty Earth report.
The company, she added, needs to “redouble” its commitment to the rights of the rubber plantation workers and affected local communities “urgently”
In its statement to ERJ on 11 Feb, Bridgestone rejected the claims, saying that the company and all its subsidiaries were committed to bringing about sustainability.
The Mighty Earth report, it claimed, contains “wholly inaccurate and sensationalist allegations and false narratives that malign Firestone Liberia’s treatment of human rights, labour rights, community engagement, water management, and transparent reporting protocols.”
“Mighty Earth’s report omits the factual, transparent and detailed information provided to it by Bridgestone Americas Inc. and Firestone Liberia,” the company statement added.
Bridgestone said it engaged with Mighty Earth “in god faith” through in-person meetings and correspondence from August 2019.
As part of the engagement, Bridgestone also included a process facilitated by rubber sustainability platform the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber (GPSNR).
Mighty Earth, however, “disregarded GPSNR’s process and proceeded unilaterally to publish its report, which contains unsubstantiated claims,” the statement added.
“Mighty Earth’s failure to participate and engage in the facilitated process in good faith, as well as their failure to cooperate with the GPSNR, calls into question the credibility, fairness and integrity of Mighty Earth’s reporting,” Bridgestone concluded.