Labour Minister, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson says that his Ministry will continue to work with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in ensuring that work conditions for Liberia’s private sector workers is improved, workers are protected, and employers are not put at an unnecessary risk with their investment. He said that the government has the responsibility to regulate the relationship between employees and employers, but however noted that at times, people will disagree and to agree.
The Liberian Labour Minister said that it is a natural phenomenon that where there is some disagreement, parties can go back to the drawing table to find an amicable solution to the disagreement.
Minister Gibson has at the same time appreciated the ILO for recognizing the milestone achievement of his administration at the Ministry over the short period of time.
Minister Gibson made these assertions on Friday, September 17, 2021 at a one-day revision and validation of the Decent Work Act 2015 held at the Hotel Buchanan, Buchanan City, Grand Bassa County.
Labour Minister Gibson said that the revision and validation of the Decent Work Act of 2015 has five conditionalities which were proposed by the ILO Consultants. He said Liberia is a test case for the Decent Work Act (DWA) as it is an instrumentality of the ILO hence as such it is important to get support so other African countries can admire and adopt it. He informed participants that out the five conditionalities, the Ministry of Labour disagreed with two and agreed with two, while it is still studying one.
- On the issue of “Designation of Essential Services”, He said that the Ministry disagrees with the proposal to permit the President of Liberia to determine essential services, stressing that such issue is the preserve of the Legislature and therefore, it requires legislative enactment by that body, rather than Presidential Proclamation. He observed that to subject it to the determination of the President would expose the president to contradictions and unnecessary vexation from the affected sectors.
- “On the issue of the Harmonization of the Civil Servants and Private Employees under one Labour Law,” the Ministry of Labour noted that such a harmonization is improper since civil servants’ salaries and benefits are set by budgetary allocation every budget year subject to the approval by the legislature and not through collective bargaining agreement with trade unions. Therefore, the two should remain separate and distinct.
- “For the Representation by Labour Solicitor at and before the Supreme Court of Liberia,” the committee at the Ministry of Labour unanimously agreed that the Labour Solicitor should appear on behalf of indigents from the Ministry of Labour up to and including the Honorable Supreme Court of Liberia.
- “For Non-interference in Trade Union Activities by Employers,” the Committee also unanimously agreed on this.
- For the “Application of the Decent Work Act to Maritime (workers on vessels) related labour disputes,” the committee took this under advisement pending further research and consultation.
In conclusion, Minister Gibson said that the Ministry of Labour continues to enjoy the cooperation and confidence from each member of the Tripartite Council and is pleased to have the National Commission on Disabilities to form part of this program because they too have a place in the workplace.
Earlier, ILO Program Manager to Liberia, Mr. Salif Haji Massalay praised the Administration of Cllr. Charles H. Gibson of the Ministry of Labour for ensuring the ratification ILO conventions since 1951 making special reference to the “Equal Work for Equal Pay” Convention.
He said the ratification of these conventions constitute a milestone of the current ILO operations in Liberia, noting that another key area of concern of the ILO has to do with the review of the Decent Work Act of Liberia. He said that Decent Work Act is limited in scope because it only covers the private sector and not workers in the public sector/government employees.
The ILO Program Manager further added that Liberia is one of the founding members of the ILO and has ratified the Collective Bargain and Freedom of Association Conventions, but it does not apply it to the public sector.
The workshop, which was held under the theme, “Promoting the Attainment of Decent Work in Liberia” brought together representatives of the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), Civil Service Association (CSA), Liberia National Teachers Association (LNTA), Health Workers Association (HWA), International Labour Organizational (ILO), among others.