"Improving the capabilities of Unions, especially those in the developing countries where 75% of Union membership in the world live should be a fundamental goal of the International Labour Movement," the Minister of Employment and Social Security, Minkailu Mansaray said Tuesday 7th August 2008.
He made this statement during the opening session of a leadership capacity building workshop for informal sector organizations in Sierra Leone organized by the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC) in collaboration with the LO-FTF Council-Danida of Denmark and Ghana Trade Union Congress at the Hotel 5/10 in Freetown.
The minister says the informal sector appears to have suffered serious neglect over the years despite its significant contribution to the economy of any country.
"I am therefore particularly delighted to note that attention is now beginning to focus on this sector in the trade union movement," the Minister noted, adding that the key to improving the capabilities of Unions is education.
He explained that union development refers to improvement of the union’s capabilities to represent its members, recruit new members, put the view of workers forward to government and employers and maintenance of organizational structures.
He noted that it is only by creating a body of trained and educated labour leaders, staff, local union activists and members that unions can hope to sustain their development without permanent dependence on outside assistance.
"Trade Unions are sometimes faced with the effects of unfair globalization, attacks on their existence by supporters of neo-liberal forces, rapidly changing technologies in the work place, undemocratic global governing bodies and expanding informal economies in which people try to make a living as well as other challenges such as the worst forms of child labour and HIV/Aids," the Minister said, adding that learning how to address these and other issues effectively is the key to the continuing growth of the labour movement.
For his part, President of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Mr. Mohamed A. Deen said the inability of successful governments to create gainful employments for the citizenry has resulted to the growth of the informal sector in the country.
He says it is a good development as the best engine for economic recovery is the informal sector.
"The informal sector can only actively contribute to national development if the government provides the enabling environment," he said, adding that there is an urgent need for the government to review the salaries of employees in the country.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.