Equal Pay For Equal Work

Seventy years ago, the International Labour Organization (ILO) approved of the ILO Convention number 100, declaring equal remuneration for men and women for work of equal value done.

This Convention means "equal pay for equal work", no matter the gender. However, it is only after seventy years of this passage that the government of Liberia has ratified the ILO  Equal Remuneration Convention, number 100.

The passage into Law of the Decent Work Bill took five years after it was introduced in the National Legislature of Liberia. Like  any struggle for Justice, the struggle for the passage of the ILO Convention and the Decent Work Bill was not all easy. However, through commitment, as seen in consistent and persistent struggle, the passage into Law came, showing the importance of such struggle.

Why was the struggle for Justice necessary? The struggle for Justice was necessary because of the presence of longstanding and widespread injustice in Liberia. This injustice became the pretext for violence, even coup d'etat, and civil war, as witnessed in Liberia. The challenge for Liberians remains the realization of Justice non-violently, through the Rule of Law. 

Let us look at the labor situation, as I was invited by the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC) to serve as the Keynote Speaker for its Fourth National Convention. After seventy years since the passage of the ILO Convention number 100, men generally continue to consider women to be relevant only in the bedroom and in the kitchen. 

Where would the rights of men be were the rights of women not to be in place? Where would the struggle for democracy be were the rights of women to be ignored? Let us remember that the Founding President General of LLC is a woman. Women's rights are in effect the rights of women and men because women are the bearers of males and females, who become women and men, who make up the population of any country.

We can see clearly that it would be impossible to have democracy in the absence of the participation of the people, women, and men, in decision-making. We can also see clearly why the passage of the ILO Convention number 100 and the Decent Work Bill into Law is of the highest importance. Therefore the struggle for Equal Pay For Equal Work is the struggle for justice, the struggle for Democracy.

What is the state of the injustice that leads to violence? The answer is: there  is injustice when a few persons think that the blessings of God, Allah, Kamba, Glaypor, Nyihnswa, Ahbie, Wuala or Ngala, Our Creator, are for them alone.

As State managers, these persons promote the production of raw materials mainly for export, resulting in poverty generation rather than poverty alleviation. Poverty generation is seen clearly in living conditions of Legislators, who have access to at least USD1,000 a day and their foreign partners, in the commercial sector alone, have access to at least USD2 million a day while over 80 per cent of the Liberian people have access to at most less than USD2 a day (Annual Reports of LISGIS, CBL, MFDP, MC&I, ADB and IBRD/IMF).

No wonder the 2020 findings of Afrobarometer show that 80 percent of the people of Liberia think that Liberia is going in the wrong direction.

Therefore, the struggle for Justice is justified to get Justice for All. Look how long it took for the ILO Convention 100 to be ratified and how long it took for the Decent Work Bill to become Law! But the problem of implementation remains.

To solve any problem, one has to start with the commitment of people affected. Most members of the labour leadership did not show commitment to the interest of labour, as they were busy running after money to pursue their own interest.

This is why the vast numbers of voters in the LLC were not appropriately conscientized to vote for the election of persons with records of pursuing the interest of labour. So, the vast majority of workers remain poor.

To address correctly the poverty of workers, I have to begin by criticizing myself. Although I have been struggling in the interest of labour for half a century, I have not been working well enough because the problem of poverty is worsening.

This means that I have to work better by working with more people in better ways to raise awareness to motivate workers and other poor people to take non-violent actions, through the Rule of Law, to end poverty generation and begin poverty alleviation. On account of this self criticism, I have the expectation that through my additional work many more workers will become motivated to vote in the right direction to get good people elected. Good people can get elected only through a FAIR electoral system.

expect This means that the present UNFAIR electoral system has to be changed from UNFAIR to FAIR for good people to be elected to place Liberia in the right direction, the direction of poverty alleviation.

As I am encouraging myself to work better because the poverty problem is worsening, this work includes raising awareness among the workers of Liberia to realize that the passage of any Law does not mean the implementation of the Law.

Therefore, we who have leadership roles are particularly responsible to motivate workers to work together to implement the ILO Convention 100 and the Decent Work Law, bearing in mind that most of the workers of Liberia still do not know what their rights are and, therefore, they do not know how to struggle for their rights, Good labour leaders must work to inform workers about their rights in ways that motivate them to act non-violently to implement the Laws made to improve the conditions of all workers sustainably.