The International Labour Organization (ILO), Country Director for English Speaking West African States, Madam Vanessa L. Phala has emphasized the need to strengthen the capacity of the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) and other social partners to enable them meaningfully contribute to issues affecting workers and employers in Liberia.
She said that it is a priority of the ILO to ensure that there are powerful, independent and effective tripartite partners (Workers, Employers and Government) on the table to discuss issues relating to the Labour sector.
She said that her delegation has identified a roadmap for workers represented by the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), that it will begin to implement with targeted interventions to help in building their capacity.
Madam Phala is the ILO Director for Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and liaison office for ECOWAS with office based in Abuja, Nigeria.
Speaking with Journalists at the end of her first visit to Liberia since taken over her new role, Madam Phala said that during a meeting with the Minister of Labour and the Tripartite Council of Liberia (LLC, LCC and the Government of Liberia through Ministry of Labour), the Council presented priorities which are expected to be included in the Decent Work Country Programme of Liberia. The Decent Work Country Programme is the ILO Programme of technical assistance to member states.
She noted that key priorities identified in the Country’s Programme are relating to youth employment, social protection and social dialogue. “Throughout our mission and having met with other relevant Ministries, development partners, Heads of UN Agencies in Liberia as well as several other meetings held, the issue of youth employment came about. And I think for the ILO, from my observation, an organization that is charged with setting International Labour Standards is important that we work and continue working with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Labour to support the government in the domestication of the ILO Conventions that have been ratified by Liberia.”
Madam Phala hailed Liberia for the ratification of all eight (8) Core Conventions or Fundamental Conventions of the ILO.
Speaking further on the employment, the ILO official maintained that employment is the center of the Decent Work Agenda of the ILO and as such, working with the Ministry of Labour to establish opportunities for the creation of decent jobs, working through Cooperative Development Agencies as a critical implementing partners, support entrepreneurship, women empowerment and poverty alleviation through cooperatives are key to the ILO. She added that the Decent Work Programme create opportunities for the ILO to provide technical assistance in a coordinated manner in bringing onboard other partners and can also be used by the Ministry of Labour as a resource mobilization document to implement other aspects of Decent Work Agenda in Liberia.
While in the country, Madam Phala also met and held discussions with the President, Speaker and leadership of the House of Representatives as well as with the Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. Jewel Howard Taylor.
“It was an honor to meet with the President, Speaker and Vice President of the Republic of Liberia. During our discussions with the Speaker and leadership of the Legislature, we discussed the role of the legislature in the implementation of ILO programmes in Liberia and they presented the processes leading to the ratification of the ILO Conventions.
Madam Vice President spoke of the need for the ratification of ILO Conventions #190, which speak to “Violent and Harassment in the World of Work” while, the delegation committed ILO support in working with Liberia in that process.”
The ILO Regional Director further clarified that issues around violent and harassment at work had gain prominent over the years and also with the adoption of Convention #190, by the International Labour Conference (ILC), demonstrates commitment of ILO Member states and social partners to work together in this area. She said that for the ILO, it is looking forward to working with the Ministry of Labour to support the process that will lead to the ratification of Convention #190.
She assured members of the National Tripartite Council of Liberia that the presence of ILO in Liberia will always remain relevant, important and critical because of its engagement with the labour sector of Liberia.
“I had the opportunity to participate in the 76th Anniversary of the UN Day, H. E. the President of the Republic of Liberia, Dr. George M. Weah was on that program and his message was very clear. His call to the UN Mission was also clear and I think our mandate, work plan and action has been placed forward. It is now our role as UN Agencies to do our best to expedite and do better as agencies as the President has indicated to work with the government and begin to implement interventions that are impactful, especially at the community level.”
“As I said this my first visit to Liberia and I had the opportunity to go to Bong County. I met with our beneficiaries in Salala and Totota. I was greatly impressed and I think I will go back there and also visit other counties.”
Madam Vanessa L. Phala was accompanied to Liberia by Madam Chinyere Emeka-Anuna, Senior Programme Officer and Madam Invoilata Chinyangarara, ILO Specialist on Workers Activities (ACTRAV).