Authorities at the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC), in collaboration with key Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) including Trade Union Institutions, will on Monday, January 27, 2020, petition members of the National legislature for the amendment of the current labour instrument and subsequent harmonization of the two laws.
Jefferson B. Knight, president of the civil society and trade union institutions of Liberia, who spoke to journalists recently in Monrovia, said when the labour law is amended and harmonized, of the decent work Act of 2015 and the civil servant standing orders of 2012 will allow public sector get the bargaining rights.
The objective of this campaign, according to him, is for Liberia to have one labour law that will protect, promote workers’ dignity and provide freedom of association for all workers in the country.
Mr. Knight stated that Liberia is the only country in the West African sub-region that has two labour laws, including the Decent Work Act of 2015 for workers within the private sector and the civil service standing orders of 2012 for workers within the public sector which, he said, undermines the work act and devalues workers dignity.
He noted that since the establishment of Liberia 174 years ago, public sector workers have been disadvantaged and denied their fundamental human rights to unionize and collective bargaining rights, which he also said is in violation of the Librarian constitution and the international labour organization (ILO) conventions 87 and 98, which Liberia has signed and ratified.
Knight maintained that the civil servants standing orders are not a labour law that the past and current government leaders have relied on to address issues confronting public sector workers.
“It is no secret that the Decent Work Act only addresses issues of private-sector workers and does not include public sector workers within the similar framework for collective bargaining,” he said.
Knight said the time is ripe for public sector workers and all other workers in Liberia to be given same rights consistent with the Decent Work Act.
In this light, he said, the LLC and the Civil Society and trade union institutions of Liberia have drafted a bill that seeks to amend the Decent Work Act of 2015 and the subsequent harmonization of the two laws (Decent Work Act and the civil servant standing orders).
Knight also said the initiative is intended to promote the pro-poor Agenda for prosperity and development.
He said: therefore, “we are calling on workers within the private and public sectors, including other trade union organizations, the Liberia Chamber of Commerce, Liberia Marketing Association (LMA), the Motorcyclists union of Liberia, Yana boys, and students to join us on January 27, 2020. We are going to petition the national legislature for the amendment of the current labour instrument and subsequent harmonization of the two laws.”
However, Mr. Knight said the initiative is being supported by the Solidarity Centre, a USAID-funded program and an international organization empowering workers around the world to ralse their voice for dignity on the job, justice in their communities and greater equality in the global economy.