“The failure of the National Legislature to pass the Decent Work Bill after almost three years is inexcusable and constitutes an indictment on the conscience of our nation,” Attorney-at-Law Samuel Kofi Woods, II has said.
Woods, speaking to some workers via telephone recently said it has been more than four years since the Decent Work Bill has languished at the House of Legislature without passage. During this period, several bills have been passed. Majority of those bills may have offered lucrative possibilities for individuals rather than the nation.
“May Day or no day! Workers around Liberia must unite and ensure that the Decent Work Bill is passed,” declared Woods. In the case of the Decent Work Bill, which contains a framework for improvements in the welfare and dignity of workers, this has been delayed, a reflection of the real interest of our Lawmakers, Woods charged.
He explained that Liberian workers continue to suffer the burden of indignities and working conditions remain unacceptable. This bill should offer the legal framework for claims that workers and employers as well as government can make. The recent senate elections should have added impetus to this process but there are frightening signs so far.
Woods reiterated what he said in October 2013 at events marking 10 years of peace in Liberia. “The Executive has been accused of mortgaging the country’s resources. True this is. However, the Legislature is the marketplace where the unfair bargaining of our resources takes place.”
Woods maintained that “Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will” quoting Frederick Douglas. He called on Liberian Workers through the Liberia Labor Congress, representative Labor Organizations and Civil Society Organizations to organize a series of peaceful actions leading to May Day, International Workers Day to put pressure on the National Legislature to complete the passage of the Decent Work Bill into law.
It may be recalled that the process of review of the Labor Laws of Liberia was initiated during the administration of Atty. Woods, when he served as Minister of Labor. He was credited for repealing and amending several laws detrimental to the working class of Liberia. Notable among these laws were the Decree 12 of the People’s Redemption Council prohibiting strikes throughout Liberia and 1508 © which accorded employers the right to hire and fire without cause. These ad hoc actions were inadequate. He sought international assistance to embark on the more comprehensive review process.
Atty. Woods has also termed as grossly inadequate the fine levied against The Liberia Agricultural Company in Grand Bassa County for its negligence in complying with basic environment and other safety measures that led to an explosion that claimed the lives of several workers. He declared that the workers and their families may seek alternative legal action to provide adequate legal redress for grievances. This can be done and must be done for Justice to be served.
He called on individual workers and their unions to further pursue this case and offered to assist in any meaningful way.
“May Day or no day! Workers around Liberia must unite and ensure that the Decent Work Bill is passed,” declared Woods.