The Ministry of Labour has announced that it has about 1,200 labour related cases pending for investigation.
Labour Minister Neto Zarzar Lighe told a news conference in Monrovia recently that the ministry is currently investigating huge labour cases for proper conclusion.
He said the Liberian government through the Labour Ministry has not been able to adequately resolve labour disputes due to the previous labour law, which has now been repealed and subsequently replaced with the Decent Work Act. The old labour prevents the Labour Ministry and institutions from being forceful on employers, thus in effect, given more rights and privileges to employers than employees.
But Minister Lighe said, with the latest Act, which has been signed by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and is to be printed into handbill by the Foreign Ministry, government will address all labour cases speedily.
He added that the new law provides no room for illegal dismissal of employees. “The issue of employers having right to hire and fire has been resolved in this new law. No employers will fire without reason, because the Decent Work Act of 2009, prohibits that; before any dismissal is made, there should be written communication to that employee, stating reason that warrants his or her dismissal and communication should be transmitted to the Labour Ministry for investigation before any action can be taken. If that is done, the employer is required by law to pay the just compensation as prescribed in the new law,” he said.
The Labour boss pointed out that the Decent Work Bill will improve working conditions and benefits in the Liberian labour force, and enhance transparency, integrity, and honesty in the work places.
The Decent Work Bill was presented to the Liberian Legislature in 2010 for passage, and after lengthy debates for over five years, the bill was passed by both the Senate and House of Representatives. But chapter five of the bill, which speaks of minimum wage, became very controversial, delaying its passage for years.
The Legislature in May this year passed the bill, which set wages for all workers in the formal sector, including concessions, industries, businesses, companies, etc., known as skilled workers, at US$5.50 per day or US$0.68 per hour. Domestic and casual workers or unskilled workers’ wages are set at US$3.50 per day or US$0.43 per hour.
Deliberations during the emergence of the Decent Work Act set the threshold for minimum wage at US$6.00 per hour, while the House of Representatives increased the amount to US$7.20 per hour.
Minister Lighe expressed strong conviction that the bill will improve working conditions and benefits for the Liberian labor force as well as enhance transparency, integrity and honesty in the work place. By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor – Editing by Jonathan Browne