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Labour Ministry, partners hold consultative meeting on labour law review

By Emmanuel Gborie

Sec Gen of Labour congress, Dep. Chair of Employers Federation, Chairman of the workshop, Labour Minister, ILO Rep, PS and Min of Labour Staff at the back

The Ministry of Labour & Social  Security in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and the Sierra Leone Employers Federation has  organized a- four -day consultative meeting  on the review of the labour laws of Sierra Leone.

The meeting which commenced on Tuesday ,June 14, is taking place at Family Kingdom Resort, Aberdeen in Freetown.

Present  at the meeting on the first day were representatives from the International Labour Organization, Human Resource Management Office  and other partners who have been involved so far in the review process.

Permanent Secretary  of the Ministry of Labour, Fatmata Mustapha, said many workers continue to work in a formal arrangement that falls outside the requirement of union organizations because of the country’s  obscure labour laws.

“This has created a lot of industrial disputes on fairness, abuse and harassment. Most of the current provisions in the existing labour laws are unresponsive to the modern day needs and emerging issues in the world of work. Labour is an important cluster in terms of Human Capital Development that affects economic growth and can further develop an economy by expanding the knowledge and skills of the people,” she said.

Organizing such consultation workshop,she said, was a step in the right direction with a view of ensuring a comprehensive review of the under mentioned labour laws and ordinances that have not been reviewed for decades.

The laws to be reviewed include Regulation of Wages and Industrial  Accumulations Acts No 18 of 1971, the Factory Act No: 09 of 1974, the Employer and Employees Act,cap 212,the Trade Union Ordinance of 1940, Cap 21 and the Employer Registration Ordinances, Cap 210 . 

“The ministry of Labour in collaboration with Social Partners, the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and the Employers Federation initiated the review process and has carefully reviewed some of the existing  labour laws for which we now have the following Bills: the Regulation of Wages and Industrial Accumulation Bill, Workers Compensation Bill, Work Permit Bill, Employment Bill, Over Seas Employment and Migrant Workers Bill. This workshop will reflect the views of stakeholders in the labour and employment sector in the review process,” she said. 

Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Max K. Conteh, in his address, said that consultation means seeking opinion  advice and that, that was what the Ministry of Labour, in consultation with the Sierra Leone  Labour Congress, has done nationwide,thus  thanking the government for financing the move.

According him, the labour law review started in 1996 the during Tejan Kabba led government and  “we are still on it until now after several years of campaign.

 Maybe he said, it was now a blessing that consultative review was staged which will ensure best practices. considering the many years covered in the review process.

“Our laws we have are not that bad, but the problem has been the implementation.”

He urges partners, the Ministry of Labour and employers to make sure that the reviewed laws are implemented, and quoting that even the Bible demands that masters should pay those that work for them. 

Tamba Alieu Kokobaye, Deputy Chairman of the Employers Federation, noted  that the work place is like a global village wherein both the employer and the employees are closely connected, and, therefore,  there should be a very good relationship between the two.

Without a good relationship between the employer and the employee, he said, the work place will not be what it is supposed to be.

Representative Samuel Coker from the Director of Planning and Budgeting, Human Resource Management Office, lauded the review process, stating that it was of goodwill that government through the Ministry of Labour supported the process.

According to him, government is the biggest employer employing about 18000 workers in the country, adding that the laws were therefore going to benefit a large number of employees showing governments commitment towards the welfare of workers.

Alpha O. Timbo, Minister of Labour joined the previous speakers to thank everyone for being a part of the planning process.

“Labour is Labour, talking about work. By extension any work place must have an employer and workers as the case may be, and therefore there must be laws that regulate the relationship that exist between the two. So, ordinances and the laws are what determine how the work place should be or look like,” he said.

He further highlighted how far they’ve gone with the review process and what were the changes that have been made on the old ordinances and laws resulting to the current Bills that  were on table. 

 According to the Minister, the country’s  employment laws should not only  be regarded as weak but that effort should be made for proper implementation, expressing strides made so far by the Ministry which includes,  to position the ministry of Labour, the Directorates, Labour and employment and the ratification of conventions  and  restoring the image of the nation.

He commended the President and the government for their support towards the  possibility of the review of the labour laws of Sierra Leone.

Labour, he said, has a legal aspect of it to the Public Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission, and Health Service Commission, having a relationship with the law.

“Therefore, the main reason for the workshop is to correct the errors that have existed in the labour laws and to review these laws.”

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