Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

'Devil's Milk'

24 February 2006
Rubber object made by Robert Jasper Grootveld
BG K22/383

Firestone's Harbel Estate in Liberia is one of the world largest rubber plantations, employing around 14.000 people. The worker's living conditions were described in an article in Guardian Weekly (24 February 2006): Most of them occupy mud huts with corrugated iron roofs. Families, often more than 10 people, cram into one, maybe two rooms. There is neither running water nor electricity, just a pump connected to the river. ' People living next to the plantation complained about pollution from the estate.  The river from which they fished and drank their water had been contaminated with toxins destroying their health, ruining their livelihoods and even killing residents. Disgruntled plantation workers formed a workers' committee organizing wildcat strikes in February 2006, demanding wage increases and union elections.

John Tully, The Devil's Milk. A Social History of Rubber (2011) p 349-350