-Calls on Senate not to concur
The President General of the General Agriculture and Allied Workers’ Union of Liberia (GAAWUL), Mr. James T. Geaves has expressed concerns over the failure of the House of Representatives to invite Union Leaders for expert opinion during discussion on issues intended to affect the well-being of workers in Liberia.
Speaking Friday, 25 February during induction of GAAWUL’s newly elected officers at St. Anthony Catholic Church Hall in Gardnersville, Mr. Geaves said the House Representatives recently passed and forwarded to the Senate for concurrence a Bill to amend several and key provisions of the Decent Work of 2015 which is the Labour Law of the Country.
He said that the Trade Union Movements in Liberia strongly believe that the House of Representatives was misled and misinformed, especially in respect to clauses/provisions to “Divide the National Unions” and its locals’ leaders without taking into consideration the most important aspect of the law.
He stressed that the most important aspect of the law has to do with the increment of the minimum wage and salary of workers of Liberia.
He added that this act on the part of the House of Representatives runs counterproductive to the very reasons Umbrella Unions were organized and has the tendency to undermine and cause chaos within Trade Union Movements of Liberia, and at the level of the industries in Liberia.
“We are all aware that the National Legislature has been strong partners of the Trade Union Movement in Liberia evidenced by the passage of the Decent Work Act of 2015 and other relevant laws,” said Mr. Geaves.
“We have always applauded them where and when necessary, and we will also not hesitate to call them and point out their errors when appropriate,” he continued.
Speaking further, the newly inducted President General of GAAWUL called on the Senate not to concur with the House of Representatives on the amendments to the Decent Work noting that it will negatively affect Trade Unions in Liberia.
“We herewith remain the National Legislature that National Unions came into existence at the request of the grassroot workers,” he said.
He noted that the general workers at the time believed that the local leaders were direct employees of companies, therefore, sitting and negotiating with the same employers led to a belief by the workers of a lot of alleged compromises by the local union leaders and did not achieve the maximum benefits that the workers expected.
Accordingly, they requested and ensured the establishment of a neutral national body to help champion and push their cause to protect and buttress the local unions’ negotiating team.
“To revert the system that had so many controversies when things have stabilized because of the presence of a national union, may lead to labor confrontation and disharmony as was in the past when there was no neutral body,” Mr. Geaves maintained.
Should the Senate concur with the House Representatives, Mr. Geaves urged the President of the Republic of Liberia to veto that portion of the Bill.
“We believe that the President, who believes in the welfare of the people, will not bring division within the national and local unions. In fact, and indeed, the President is an employee of the Liberian people, and we are confident that he will sing the song of Solidarity and render Solidarity to the workers of Liberia,” Mr. Geaves noted.
He thanked members of GAAWUL for voting him and pledged to live up to their expectations of creating a more inclusive leadership that is attentive and responsive to workers’ rights.
He promised to ensure the protection of those rights through collective bargaining, advocacies at national and international levels, and all other legal means even when they require judicial review and decision through courts.
“The strength and success of any organization is the unity of its members. Unity is strength! In this light, our administration is calling on its members and officers to unite in all their operations for the betterment of the union,” he said.
Those inducted into the GAAWUL new leadership are Mr. James T. Geaves, President General, Mr. Adolphus W. Wesseh, Secretary General, Mr. Prosperous Paymah, Vice President for Administration, Mr. Alfred S. Kpannah, Vice President for Operation.
Also inducted were Mr. Aloysius M. Kollie, Director for Grievance and Negotiation, Mr. James B. Corneh, Treasurer General, Ms. Viola G. Nagbe, Women Chair, Mr. Saye B. Baawo, Advisor General, and James D. Kollie, Chaplain.