Monrovia (ILO News): The Ministry of Labour, with the financial support of the ILO, organized a Liberian National Labour Conference under the theme “A Decent Workforce under One Labour Law” targeted towards harmonizing existing labour laws and regulations.
In his speech at the opening of the conference, the Director of the ILO Country Office Abuja, Mr Dennis Zulu, congratulated the President of Liberia, His Excellency George Manneh Weah, on his election as the President of the Liberia and commended the government for taking steps to convene the conference with the aim of holistically addressing employment and labour concerns in the country.
Mr Zulu commended the government for prioritizing decent work, through the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development (PAPD) which provides for decent work and strategies to achieve same in Liberia. Although Liberia has ratified six of the eight core conventions, he expressed the need for the government to ratify the remaining two core conventions. He also expressed the benefits of working in collaboration with the social partners in Liberia to implement the Liberia’s first labour law (since 1950), the Decent Work Bill which was signed into law in 2015. This very act of enacting the Decent Work Law made Liberia the first country in the World whose Labour Law directly referred to the ILO’s Decent Work Agenda in its title” he said.
Mr Zulu, who spoke on “A Decent Workforce under One Labour Law” stated that the responsibility of creating a decent workforce should go beyond the formal economy as a significant number of workers in Liberia belong to the informal economy. He demonstrated the huge benefits that Liberia stood to gain if the decent work deficits identified in Liberia were addressed in partnership with employers and workers organizations in their effort to make decent work a reality.
As its objectives, the conference sought to create a conducive atmosphere for stakeholders to harmonize inconsistencies in Liberian Labour Law, review strategies for implementing various national action plans and share best practices of a decent work environment.
The President of Liberia, HE George Manneh Weah, in his address said he was thrilled to be at the conference which was the first to be held in Liberia since the country became a member of the International Labour Conference. The president congratulated the Ministry of Labour for setting up the workshop “when Liberians are enjoying the dividends of peace, and anticipating the prospects and promise of national reconciliation”. He called for constructive discussion on the Labour Law in order to harmonize inconsistencies and encouraged the members of the Liberian workforce and the people of Liberia to always use peaceful and constructive dialogue as a means of finding redress to their plights. He also advised that the labour sector actors should take keen interest in providing equal protection for employees of the public and private sector.
The President also pointed out the need to reconcile the differences between provisions, coverage and inclusion of the Decent Work Act (DWA) and those of the Civil Service Standing Order (CSSO). He regretted that the differences between the DWA and CSSO have led to deprivation of Liberian public servants from exercising some of their basic rights as workers under the Liberian Constitution and ILO Conventions to which Liberia is a signatory; labour market rigidity and and confusion in the administration and governance in the Liberian labour sector.
He hoped that the labour conference would produce a conducive atmosphere for all stakeholders including lawmakers, members of the Judiciary, international partners and the Labour leadership of Liberia to hold constructive discussions in all aspects of labour laws, with a view to harmonizing all inconsistencies and providing equal protection of workers in both public and private sectors of the Liberian workforce.