May 3, 2017 By Memunatu Bangura
President Ernest Bai Koroma has noted that no country including Sierra Leone will develop if the workforce was not efficient, committed and happy.
“We need to have a happy workforce, energy and efficiency of the Sierra Leonean workforce will significantly help to build the country,” he said.
President Koroma was speaking to workers during the International Workers Day celebrations on Monday, 1st May, 2017, at Miatta Conference Centre, Brookfields in Freetown.
Speaking on the theme: ‘Promoting Employment Rights,’ President Koroma said the theme was appropriate, timely, and was in line with his government development program in advocating for workers to get good working condition that would enable them focus on efficient delivery of service.
He stated that the theme was also in line with goal six of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations and called on employers to use the May Day to develop themselves and the country.
President Koroma emphasised that his government has been committed to ensuring that the working environment was friendly for workers and made laws that were fair to both workers and employers and attractive for investors, adding that if all those were not balanced, it would have been difficult for workers to develop themselves.
“My administration is committed to creating a friendly and conducive environment for workers and employers with an attractive environment for investment,” he said.
He noted that government’s commitment to promoting and safeguarding the labour force has been captured in the domestication of International Labour Laws, adding that May Day was a moment of dialogue and a means to address issues that were raised by workers.
President Koroma urged workers to know their responsibility and work with the limit and within the ambit of laws in order to achieve good outcome for the development of the country, adding that his government was committed to supporting their course and make the working environment friendly.
On his part, Minister of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), Matthew Teambo said his ministry has made remarkable progress to promoting and safeguarding the country’s labour force.
Highlighting some of the achievements, he stated that his ministry has conducted a labour force survey that was not done for the past thirty years, established Labour market information system that helps workers access information about the ministry, reformed the old labour laws to meet the level of other countries.
“Government has protected employment rights, including a labour force survey, National Employment Policy, Migration Policy, reform of the existing labour laws as well as working on a national social health insurance policy that will be of huge benefit to all workers,” he said.
Teambo said amidst such achievements, the ministry was also challenged with mobility to carry out their mandates and inspect wide areas in other parts of the country, capacity building for staff and construction of branches for Labour offices in the country.
Acting President of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC), Jennings A.B. Wright, described International Workers Day- May Day as a red letter day for all workers in the country and thanked the government for the transformation in infrastructure, energy, health and other sectors, and the establishment of the Legal Aid Board.
He called on government to support and strengthen the Labour Ministry and also reviews the Social Security concerns of premature retirement of civil servants, teachers and nurses that were not on payroll, pensions, timely payment of subsidies to primary schools among others.
He reminded President Koroma about the promises he made last year during May Day celebration to settle the issues of ten thousands pensioners that were receiving less than one hundred thousand Leones per month, which he said has not been looked into.
He pleaded with government to provide decent jobs for Sierra Leoneans, adding that the causal workers were more than the permanent staff put together.
Awards were presented to deserving individuals and institutions that have supported the work of the Labor Congress.