A group photo of participants.

The Country Office of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for English Speaking West African Countries has said that Liberia has been placed on the list of countries not reporting on International Labour Standards (ILS).

Speaking on behalf of the ILO Country Director for English Speaking West African Countries, Mrs. Vanessa Phala, ILO Country Coordinator in Liberia Mr. Haji S. Massalay said that for the past two years, Liberia has not reported on ratified ILO Conventions and, as such, it is now placed on the list of Countries not reporting on ratified ILO Conventions.

“When a country ratifies an ILO Convention, it becomes binding on that Country to report on the application of said convention after every two years.”’

Mr. Massalay was speaking on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at the opening of a two-day Capacity Building workshop for ILO Tripartite Partners (Workers, Employers, and Government) and other stakeholders on the formulation of legislations, regulations, policies and joint proposal development based on International Labour Standards.

He said that the expected outcome of this capacity building workshop is a strengthened capacity of ILO tripartite partners and other key stakeholders including women to participate in the formulation of legislation, regulations and policies, as well as to develop joint proposals based on ILS aimed at addressing the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the world of work. 

The ILO Country Coordinator further informed participants that the ILO is the only UN agency that is Tripartite in nature, and charged with the responsibilities to: oversee rights at work; encourage decent employment opportunities; promote social protection; and strengthen social dialogue as it relates to workers rights.

He said that the organization was established in recognition of the fact that conditions of labour exist involving such injustice, hardship and privation to large numbers of people as to produce unrest so great that the peace and harmony of the world are imperiled.

“We are here today based on a number of factors. Firstly, to strengthen the institutional capacity in Liberia for the ratifications, domestications and reporting on ILS. This comes on the backdrop of certain Fundamental Conventions of the ILO that are yet to be ratified by Liberia. Why is it that Liberia, as a founding member of the ILO, has been unable to ratify two Fundamental Conventions?”

Mr. Massalay used the occasion to inform participants, many of whom are officials of government and key stakeholders in the labour sector of the Country, that Liberia is the only country in Africa that is yet to ratify those two Fundamental Conventions (Conventions 100 & 138 on Equal Pay for Equal Work and Minimum Age respectively), noting that “There is an urgent need to ratify these conventions”.

Secondly, that the ILO has realized that Liberia has two (2) Labour Laws namely: the Decent Work Act of 2015 and the Civil Service Standing Orders.

“The Decent Work Act does not cover employees in the Government Sector, but only for those in the private sector. Employees in government or Civil Servants/Public Sector workers are covered under the Civil Service Standing Orders.”

Mr. Massalay added that this is causing a lot of confusion in the labour sector of Liberia and requires urgent attention. He added that “Liberia is a signatory to the ILO Conventions 87, which speaks to “Freedom of Association and the Right to join Union” and 98, which focuses on “The Right to Collective Bargaining”. He wondered why Liberia would ratify these Conventions and deny workers of the public sector the right to freely organize and form unions. He further averred that this is the key reason that a series of workshops with partners are being conducted to assist in the reporting of these conventions. The workshop is also intended to build the capacity of partners and stakeholders to follow-up with the government to report on ratified ILO Conventions.

“On Monday, May 17, 2021, the workshop focused on Tripartite Members and other key stakeholders; on Tuesday, May 18, we brought in the Hearing Officers of the Ministry of Labour, the Liberia Labour Congress, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (representative of employers), Civil Service Agency, Civil Servants Association, the Health Workers, the National Teacher Association, amongst others. On Wednesday, May 19, we held the media. They are the watch-dogs of society and we need to ensure that they develop interest in reporting issues in the country and to make them have some insight of what ILS is, especially as it relates to conventions being ratified by Liberia.

“For the next two days, we will be focusing on building the capacity of tripartite partners and other key stakeholders todraft and formulate legislations, regulations, policies and to develop joint proposals based on International Labour Standards. Considering that the Ministry of Justice is cardinal to this intervention we have reach out to them. Over ten lawyers of the Ministry of Justice and thirty-five partners from other sectors including the Legal Section and Hearing Officers of the Ministry of Labour are participating in this phase.”

He concluded that the current Minister of Labour, Charles H. Gibson, has demonstrated high commitment in ensuring that International Labour Standards are respected in Liberia as well as the speedy ratification of the two core conventions earlier named including the 1986 amendment to the ILO Constitution. He has also promised that going forward, Liberia will report on ratified ILO Conventions in a timely manner.

Facilitators at the two-day event are Cllr. Patrice Pokar Weah, Prof. Anthony J. Nimely, Cllr. Frances Johnson Allison and Mr. Haji S. Massalay.

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