The International Labour Organization (ILO) Country Director for Liberia, Dennis Zulu, has called on the Government of Liberia to ensure labour laws and regulations are adhered to if the country must obtain a decent workforce.
Zulu said it is evident that having a decent work law as well as ratifying the relevant ILO conventions is not sufficient to achieving a decent workforce; but rather a decent workforce can be adequately achieved if the government put into place mechanisms that will ensure compliance with the laws and regulations.
Serving as the keynote speaker at the opening of a three-day Liberia National Labour Conference at the Monrovia City Hall on Monday, the ILO official called on the Liberian Government to provide the basic financial and logistical support to the Ministry of Labour, the institution responsible to ensure that the labour laws are adequately adhered to.
According to Zulu, a decent workforce sums up the aspirations of people in their working lives, promotes the opportunity to make them productive, delivers a fair income as well as provides security and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration at workplaces.
He added that decent workforce also gives employees the freedom to express their concerns, organize and participate in the decisions that affect their lives and also provides equal opportunity for both men and women in various workplaces.
Zulu also pointed out that the role of workers and employees through their representative organizations is equally important in the attainment of a decent workforce, stressing: “Workers and employees interest can only be promoted if they have strong representative organizations.”
The ILO Country Rep. Stressed the need for both the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC) and the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), who are responsible to seek the welfare of their affiliates, to work towards understanding their needs, providing them the needed services, and representing them accordingly, which includes making them aware of the provisions of the Decent Work Law and its provisions as they apply.
He, however, admonished President George Weah to ensure that the government, in creating a decent workforce should go beyond the formal economy because a significant number of the workers in Liberia are found in the informal sector, stressing: “If progress is to be made towards work for all in Liberia, priority should be placed in the informal sector where evidence shows that workers in the sector face the most serious decent work deficits.”
Zulu then lauded the government for ratifying six of the eight ILO core conventions which were identified by the organization’s governing body as ‘fundamental principles’ which cover Freedom of Association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; the elimination of all forms of force or compulsory labour.
According to him, it also covers the abolition of child labour and the elimination of discrimination in respect to employment and occupation, adding: “These principles are also covered in the ILO’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work adopted in 1998.
He also thanked the government for organizing the conference to help achieve a decent Liberian workforce under one labour law because the adoption of one national labour law is an important means of implementing the international labour standards and promoting the rule of law.
Zulu stressed the need for the review and amendment of the Labour Law at various intervals to ensure it reflects not only the state of employment relationship but also the aspiration of both the employed and workers in the country.