Family Kingdom Auditorium, Aberdeen, Freetown, Tuesday 3 May 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has joined colleague employees in the country to commemorate May Day or International Labour Day, urging workers in Sierra Leone to ensure fairness at their different workplaces.
Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Max Conteh, thanked the President for gracing the occasion and all workers and affiliate unions that had committed to nationbuilding, saying that the conference was intended to solidify their strength to demand fairness at their places of work, using their collective efforts.
He, therefore, called on employers to treat their workers fairly in terms of wages, salaries, and other conditions or benefits in return for efficient service delivery and wealth creation. He further urged the government on the need to review the country’s labour laws, which, he said, were too old to meet the current challenges of the labour market.
“Your Excellency, notwithstanding the challenges we face as a nation, the Labour Congress appreciates you and your government for providing the leadership within the context of the New Direction. We commend the government for allowing dialogue with the Sierra Leone Labour Congress to find a lasting solution to the issues around welfare maximisation. May God Bless Sierra Leone,” he concluded.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Honourable Alpha Timbo said that the celebration of May Day was an important milestone in the history of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, adding that International Labour Day was being celebrated the world over to commemorate the struggles and sacrifices of workers, labourers, and the working class.
He also stated that the President of the nation should address and motivate workers of all classes for their relentless efforts in advancing development of the nation, adding that workers continued to face challenges. He, therefore, called on employers to work with their employees, so that terms and conditions were always determined on a regular basis.
“Despite the challenges of the Coronavirus on economies and the recent war between Russia and Ukraine, the New Direction government has increased the number of workers on the wage bill. More teachers, more nurses have been recruited. As the Labour Minister, I am proud to say that this government has done a lot in terms of salary increment and other facilities for workers. We will continue to work with other employers for dignified conditions of service for our workers,” Minister Timbo assured.
In his statement, President Bio said he felt honoured to be part of the celebration, simply because he was a worker too and that indeed he was an employee of the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
“I was employed on the 4th of April 2018 for a period of five years and eligible for another five years to steer the mantle of leadership of this great nation. Sadly, for me as a worker, I don’t have anywhere to complain about salary increment or improved conditions of service and I cannot even go on strike,” he stated.
He noted that the issues raised by the Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and many of the concerns affecting workers had always been similar but assured that in a meeting last week with the leadership of the labour unions they agreed to strengthen cooperation.
“However, on the issue of salaries and wages for workers, it is important to note that since 2018 to date my government has made 30% salary increment for teachers, 50% salary increment for Military, Police, Fire Force and Correctional Services; 50% salary increment for workers at ONS and CISU; 25% salary increment for workers at Audit Service, Anti-Corruption Commission and Statistics Sierra Leone; and 75% salary increment for university lecturers and workers.
“In 2019, my government also increased the minimum wage from Five Hundred Thousand Leones (Le500,000) to Six Hundred Thousand Leones (Le600,000). I know workers always want more salary increments but what we have done so far should give workers hope that this is a government that cares and a government that is fair. Let me also state that preparations for the establishment of a Wages and Compensation Commission are at an advanced stage,” he said.
He further disclosed that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and its social partners had conducted at least two reviews of some of the labour laws of the country and for the first time two significant bills had been drafted.
“The Labour Bill, 2022: This will be an Act to consolidate and repeal the Factories Act, 1974; General Law (Business Start-up) (Amendment) Act, 2007; Regulations of Wages and Industrial Relations Act, 1971; Employers and Employed Act Cap 212, 1956; Workman’s Compensation Act Cap 219 and the Trade Union Act 1944.
“Overseas Employment and Migrants Bill, 2022: This will be an Act to provide for the regulations of overseas employment, to provide for the establishment of a safe and fair system of migration, to provide for the protection of the rights and welfare of migrant workers and members of their families and to provide for other related matters.
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