Liberia’s Minister Moses Y. Kollie has vowed to ensure that his Ministry applies all necessary legal steps to getting employers and employment institutions adhering to the provisions of the Decent Work Bill Act of 2015 as a source of harmonizing and restoring dignity to the labour sector of the country.
Speaking on Friday March 2,2018 when he led a delegation from the Ministry of Labour to inspect the operations of the Bea Mountain gold mine in Grand Cape Mount County, Minister Kollie expressed serious concern over the manner in which Liberian workers have being treated by sub-contractors of original companies and reassured Liberians that his administration at the Labour Ministry will seriously address these issues in line with the Decent work act of 2015 which he encouraged employers and their employees to make use of.
“We notice that this new phenomenon of sub-contracting employment service which is not only unique with Bea-Mountain is a concern of the Ministry. I feel strongly, things should change so that our Liberian employees can start to benefit from insurance, retirement package and others. I think, in order for these companies to evade their responsibilities, they have decided to engage in the sub-contracting companies. Concessions are not only about revenue, but creating decent jobs for our citizens. And we are going to ensure that happens.” Minister Kollie explained.
During the Bea Mountain’s visit, Minister Kollie and team met with representatives of the Management and Workers at the company and also held talks surrounding the issues of safety policies, employment contracts, salary structures, work schedule as well as number of aliens in the employ of the company and job titles they (alien) hold. He explained his inspection is intended to ensuring that the labour force of the country has a decent work environment, thus encouraging companies to provide permanent decent jobs for Liberians instead of constant contracts through sub-contractors.
For his part, the representative of the Management of Bea Mountain, Mr. Debbah Allen informed the Minister that the company has a total of one thousand-six hundred (1600) workers directly or indirectly in its employ. He said, out of the number, two hundred-ten (210) are non-Liberians or expatriates; the information which Labour Minister Moses Y. Kollie has vowed to verify, requesting Bea Mountain to provide full list of their employees before Wednesday March 7, 2018.
On the issue of the management and workers relations, Mr. Allen said, the management has a Collective Bargain Agreement (CBA) with the United Workers Union of Liberia that helps enhance interactions with the workers. “We have a functional safety team here. At every department, there is safety policies put in place. These policies are very active. Employees are provided housing for those coming from outside the community, while the local staffs are currently living in private homes.” Mr. Allen Narrated.
On the issue of sub-contracting some of the company’s operations, Allen said, his company intention is to empower Liberian businesses and not intended to evade responsibility as is the fear of the Labour Minister.
Addressing reporters at the end of the inspection of the company’s facilities, the Labour Ministry Boss expressed serious concern over the wave of complains coming from workplaces around country that requires immediate interventions by the Ministry .He reiterated, his team will adequately address the situations and ensure that Liberians are given decent work and fair benefits under President George Weah’s pro-poor policy.
“I do not want to be a ‘desk Minister’, so, I choose to drive here and see for myself based on the reports from my inspectors. This visit had provided me good opportunity to see that there are problems to be addressed.” Hon. Kollie emphasized
During the media engagement, the Labour Minister underscored the importance of employment institutions including Bea Mountain in providing jobs to Liberians but said, there is a need for improvement. “We want to appreciate the Bea Mountain for contributing to the economy and providing employment for our people, but we need some improvement and we are going to officially sit with them for conversation and dialogue as a means of working together to improve some of these issues”.
Minister Kollie added, information gathered from both management and workers will help the Ministry to make inform judgment in interest of industrial peace and harmony.