SIERRA LEONE LABOUR CONGRESS
MAY DAY MESSAGE BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE SIERRA LEONE LABOUR CONGRESS IN OBBSERVANCE OF WORKERS DAY- 1ST MAY 2012
The Sierra Leone Labour Congress extends its fraternal greetings and solidarity to all working men and women of the Republic of Sierra Leone on the occasion of May Day, 2012. The Workers’ Day commemoration is essentially in recognition of the hard work that has gone into the building of our once ravaged country due to war and under development.
The Sierra Leone working class has been at the forefront of the struggle for a sustainable, prosperous and a united democratic country. We therefore pay tribute to all workers of Sierra Leone for a peaceful and stable country.
On this great day, workers all over the world remind themselves of the major issues that affect worker’s welfare. Sierra Leone Labour Congress considers this day as a great day. It is an occasion for workers to come together in unity and friendship to celebrate past achievements and reflect on the setbacks and the ever increasing challenges they are confronting with.
The perpetual struggle for social and economic justice and a better living and working conditions provides an opportunity for workers to strategize for a better future during this day.
The biggest challenges we face as a labour movement is the ca casualization of labour and contractual employment. This has seen tens of thousands of previously secure and reasonably paid jobs being replaced by short-term casual jobs with low pay and virtually no conditions of service and job security. This is having a disastrous effect on the working class and national development.
Some employers want to pay pittance rather than sit down and negotiate in bargaining councils. Some are blackmailing workers with the argument that “if you don’t want to work for what we are offering, there are thousands of others out there desperate for a job at any price”. This is not good for industrial democracy, peace and stability.
A typical example is workers that are engaged by private security agencies and domestic workers who are paid wages that are far below the negotiated wages by the services trade group council. The Sierra Leone Labour Congress and its affiliate unions will start to expose and shame those institutions and employers that are in the habit of exploiting workers.
We therefore urge government to enforce the legal provisions that seek to address casualization and also bring to book employers that are engaged in bad labour practice. We call for the banning of the so-called labour brokers that are in violation of our labour laws.
Another core challenge is our levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality, whose effects seep into every corner of our national life. Unemployment is a national crisis. Creating jobs, eradicating poverty and reducing inequality has to be the top priority for government, business and labour. We therefore call upon Government and Employers to implement to the fullest the signed country decent work programme which is a catalyst for the regeneration of decent and secured jobs, reduction of poverty and inequality.
We workers cannot totally rely on the private sector and market forces, to promote economic growth, in the hope that wealth thus created will ‘trickle down’ to workers and the poor. Even developed countries are now abandoning this pro-market approach and are taking drastic action to try to discipline the private sector, particularly commercial institutions.
Another massive challenge is inequality in the distribution of wealth. Inequality affects workers’ lives not only directly, in terms of their take-home pay, but in the quality of their lives. We therefore urge government to convene the joint National Negotiating Board (JNNB) to negotiate a realistic national minimum wage. We can’t wait any longer!!!
Furthermore, we appeal to government to declare this day as a public holiday to join progressive nations of the world that have great appreciation and concern for their working population.
Our generation is privileged to have this fine asset ‘Sierra Leone Labour Congress’ and must do more to preserve and nurture it and take it to new heights. We must leave it even stronger to future generation of workers.
Workers of the world unite!
Workers united will never be defeated!
I thank you.
Mr. M.A. Deen
President- Sierra Leone Labour Congress
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.