Tim Newman from the ILRF responded to Pulliam’s column with a letter to the editor entitled “Demand Dignity for Firestone Workers in Liberia”,
published on October 16. The letter from the ILRF provoked Dan
Adomitis, President of the Firestone Natural Rubber Co., to respond to
his own letter that was published October 29 entitled “Firestone is Force for Progress and Hope in Liberia”.
Adomitis claims in his letter that Firestone does not hire workers
under the age of 18. While Firestone may not officially "hire"
children under the age of 18, child labor on the company's rubber
plantation is an undeniable fact as a result of Firestone's quota
For example, in a CNN interview (transcript available online here: http://www.laborrights.org/press/Firestone/in...
) Adomitis says, “Well, I think the work is fairly balanced, we - each
tapper will tap about 650 trees a day, where they spend perhaps a
couple of minutes at each tree”. Anyone who does the simple math will
find that two minutes at 650 trees adds up to 1,300 minutes, or over 21
hours. That is NOT a reasonable work load and workers report that they
are actually expected to tap almost double that number of trees and if
they do not meet their production quotas, they are paid less. This is
exactly why many workers are forced to bring children to work.
This is just one of the many distortions in Adomitis' letter.
Apparently, Adomitis’ claims did not sit well with other Indianapolis
Star readers either, as evidenced by the many comments written in
response to the publication. Check out the comments posted online to
find out what others think about the issue.
For more information about Firestone and to see some evidence of the
problems, check out this photo essay by French photographer Michael
Zumstein: http://www.oeilpublic.com/diaporama.php?r=254&p=8 and also look at http://www.stopfirestone.org.