The Minister of Labour Cllr. Charles H. Gibson has observed that certain sectors of the economy should be declared essential and restricted from strike. Minister Gibson said the old Labour Law of Liberia prohibited entities that provide basic social services such as, water, electricity, telecommunications, airport services and others from strike because to do so would affect the entire population.He said there are other mechanisms that workers in these sectors can use to address their grievances other than strike because it will amount to a national lockdown.
“But as it is, under the current Decent Work Act, Section 41.4 which provides that “To declare a sector essential, it should go through rigorous process with the Tripartite Council and ends into Gazette. In countries that were brought out of the British Colonies and are British Colonies, Gazette constitutes law. In Liberia Gazette is a proclamation; the Legislature makes law”, the Labour boss explained.
He made the observation recently at the opening of a validation workshop on the review of the Decent Work Act to address comments and recommendations by the International LabourOrganization Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), held in Monrovia.
“We are to validate a report from the review of the Decent Work Act. The Decent Work Act is a tool of the International Labour Organization (ILO). It is a test case for Liberia. The Legislature was convinced that it is a good instrument and UNMIL was on the ground, so we say let test it. To a large extend, the ILO is reviewing its own instrument that it brought to Liberia. In this review process, the ILO is very instrumental to ensuring that issues arising from the DWA are brought to the table to allow all partners discuss them. We from Ministry of Labour are not here to validate the report, but to further contribute to its review”, Minister Gibson added.
At the same time he hailed the partnership between the ILO Regional Office and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry, noting that assuming the office of Minister of Liberia much has been achieved through partnership between the Ministry, the Labour sector of Liberia and the ILO. “We look further to strengthening this relationship for the betterment of the labour sector of Liberia.”
Also speaking during the opening program, ILO Regional Director for English Speaking West Africa, Madam Vanessa Phala said the review of the Decent Work Act of Liberia came as a result of a Labour Conference held in 2018 under the theme “A Decent Workforce Under One Labour Law” which actually identified and resolved to review certain provisions of the Decent Work Act.
For his part, the ILO Country Coordinator to Liberia, Mr. Salif H. Massalay said ILO wants a labour law that will cover workers in both private and public sectors of Liberia. He said the ILO is concerned about Labour Laws being used to regulate the sector.
He said the ILO is working with the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Labour to develop one Labour Law that will address all labour issues in Liberia as it is in many countries around the world.
The ILO Country Coordinator used the occasion to highlight the contribution of Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson in promoting labour relations in the country noting, that since assuming the office as Minister of Labour, he has considered labour relations as one of his priority areas and has taken the lead and promised to work with the ILO in ensuring that issues relating to the Core Conventions of the ILO are addressed.
The workshop brought together over 40 participants from the Ministries of Labour and Justice, the Liberia Labour Congress, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Civil Service Agency (CSA), Civil Servant Association, Health Workers, Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL) among others.