The Minister of Labour and Industrial Relations Hindolo Trye has said that the 1971 labour laws governing workers in the country is old and outdated and do not stand the test of time.
Speaking at the regular “Have your Say in Governance” programme at the SLBC, he said the minimum wage for workers is 21,000 which is not only meager but not conducive to current social dynamics.
He said the Sierra Leone Labour Congress is working closely with his Ministry to synchronize and harmonize the labour laws.
He said employment policy has never been developed in the country. He called on the Ministry of Education to provide scholarships to Labour officials to be trained as industrial lawyers specialized in labour laws. He said the establishment of the industrial court is significant but if we have Sierra Leoneans that are trained in labour laws, then the volume of cases will be expedited and industries or companies will be cautious in dealing with their workers.
The Director of Open Government Initiative Kadija Sesay recalled the Bumbuna Crises which emanated from labour matters. She said the unemployment rate in the country is high and the disparity between the so-called expatriates and Sierra Leoneans in terms of remuneration is great. She said it is unfortunate that courses offered in the universities do not address the contemporary working requirement issues in the country. She called on the appropriate authorities to review the education curriculum to meet with the current job market. She said the mining companies like African Minerals, London Mining has advertised so many jobs but Sierra Leoneans do not have the requisite knowledge and capacity to work in these institutions.
Civil Society activist Victor Lansana said it is unfortunate that jobs as low as clerks, forklift drivers are undertaken by expatriates when we have Sierra Leoneans that can handle these positions. He also mentioned about the issue of work permit which could be a source of revenue for the government.
Responding the Minister of Labour said when he was appointed Minister there are only 70 non residents that pay work permit.
He said the application form was sold at le 10,000 but it has now been increased to 100,000 leones. He said his Ministry is also working assiduously with NASSIT to resuscitate the social safety net for the old and needy. He called on workers to respect Labour Officials who negotiate on their behalf whenever there are problems in their various working institutions.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.