November 15, 2021
By Aminata Phidelia Allie
Information Officer, MLSS
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Labour and Social Security, Alpha Osman Timbo, on Friday, 12th November 2021, held an engagement meeting with the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), to explore ideas and suggestions for the smooth implementation of the employment ministry’s recently launched Transfer to Transform labour migration project (T2T Project).
“As a government, we should not be seen as stopping our people from seeking employment overseas. Instead, we should make their movement safe, legal and coordinated”, the minister said in a meeting with the ACC’s Prevention Department’s Deputy Director, Patrick M. George.
Mr. Timbo explained that the key promise he made to Cabinet while lobbying for the labour migration ban to be lifted was that his ministry would ensure the safety and dignity of labour migrants. He said that it was in the line of upholding that promise that the T2T Project was launched in May as a five-year pilot project.
He went on to explain the three main project components which are ‘Decent work in the Gulf States’, the ‘Work-Study, and the ‘Diasporan National Service’. “The ministry promotes safe and dignified employment. The best way to alleviate poverty is to provide employment for the people”, Mr. Timbo averred.
The Minister said that his ministry was opened to suggestions and more ideas from the ACC, especially on issues relating to the transfer of labour. He informed the meeting that the Government, through the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, already had cooperation agreements with most of the Sultanate States.
He pointed out that most of these states used to operate the ‘Kafala system’ where employees were maltreated and enslaved. However, that system had been abolished; hence the agreements between the governments to transfer manpower to these Gulf States as and when necessary, following due processes.
He said the project would deploy officers in all of the one hundred and ninety-two (192) chiefdoms of Sierra Leone to draw out eligible candidates for the jobs available overseas so as to have a fair selection of manpower from all over the country. “We will also have Labour attaches to monitor them in the Gulf States and report back to us on regular basis”, the minister revealed.
Mr. Timbo revealed that aside several other documents already in place to regulate the process of labour migration in the country, a *Services Commission Agreement* had also been developed to guide the recruitment agencies in how they should charge commissions for overseas jobs. Sharing a draft of this document with the ACC, the minister said that the ministry would ensure that margins stipulated were in line with international standards and provisions of the International Labour Organization.
Appreciating the minister for initiating the meeting, the ACC Director, suggested that a strategic plan, clearly outlining the project’s short-term, medium-term and long-term goals should be drawn up. He also suggested that a discreet complaint mechanism be put in place.
Mr. George said that he would take back the outcome of the meeting to the ACC Commissioner, Francis Ben Keifala, whilst assuring that the Commission’s doors were ever open to the ministry for further engagements and future collaborations.