Four trade union organizations operating in the country have come together to form a merger now known as “National Union of Hospitality, Aviation, Communication and Energy Workers of Liberia (NUHACE). Until the merger, the four unions were Hospitality, Aviation, Communication and Energy Workers.
Togba R. Croyee Porte, Assistant Labour Minister for Trade Unions Affairs and Social Dialogue, who spoke earlier during the two-day ceremony marking the founding congress of the merger held recently in Monrovia, admonished members of the newly merged union to work within the framework of the Union’s Constitution and the merger document that represents those things that give equality to all.
On the theme, “What Makes a Nation Strong,” Mr. Porte named three pillars that make a nation strong as, the people, the rule of law and a serious, committed, dedicated and proud workforce.
Beginning with the people, he said, the people’s primary reason for good governance, and working along with their leaders to unite to make the nation strong.
“That is what you have done by coming together so that your various institutions can recognize and respect you, and enable you to be an essence to your institutions. These institutions cannot exist without you the workers,” Mr. Porte said.
He added, “The second and one of the most important pillars that make a nation strong is the rule of law, therefore, I reminding you that the law is the guiding instrument, which represents all and, as such, they should work within the framework of the law.”
“For example, in Liberia, the constitution is the primary law of our land and it represents and protects the interest of all Liberians and those that live within our boundaries. Every employment institution operating in Liberia is to have policies and procedures that serve as guardian document for all workers once they get on the job.”
Minister Porte said under the Decent Work Act, employers are to provide orientation to new employees on their policies and procedures on the job. He said the government through the Decent Work Act is working to ensure that workers should have workplace representation through a union that serves as their bargain agent or mother union.
He informed his audience that the role of the Ministry of Labour is to represent the interest of both workers and management through administration and implementation of the Decent Work Act which is the Labour Law of Liberia and as such, they should consider the rule of law in all of their activities.
“We understand it is estimated that the unemployment rate stands at over 75% in our country, meaning that we have 75 percent of Liberians waiting to take job. So when one gets a job or employment, he forgets to ask for the policies and procedures that cover the job and when he is caught by these same policies and procedures, he runs to the union or the Ministry of Labour for redress.
“And if the Ministry tells that employee or those groups of employees that they don’t have a case because they did not follow the law, then they say the Ministry of Labour is not working. But let me advise you today: if you get a job, you should ask for the policies, procedures, the job descriptions, as well as other things from the HR Manager that go along with the job before taking over.
“Because it is those things that guard your employment whether they are good or bad and it is those things when you come in problem on the job the Ministry of Labour will ask for. Those things include but are not limited to the following: Employee Handbook, Letter of Employment, and ID card.”
He maintained that it is the responsibility of workplace representatives and union leaders to provide education to new employees on their rights on the job and failure to do that means the union is not working.
Mr. Porte then outlined the third thing that makes a nation strong as “a serious, committed, dedicated and proud workforce that respect all of what labor represents.”
“Labour is dignity and every man and woman should be proud, because through labour, one can put food on the table, and give them a place to sleep,” he said.
The president of the newly merged Union, Bayou Wallace, assured his members that he will not betray the confidence and trust reposed in him, “because with the power invested in me, and with the support of the Liberia Labour Congress and the Ministry of Labour, the improvement we so desire as workers in these sectors will come.”
He promised to ensure that all workers in these sectors of the merger will be covered by bargaining agreements. He praised Mr. Porte for participating in the two-day event and called on him to express the union’s gratitude to the Minister of Labour, Moses Y. Kollie and President George M. Weah, for creating the opportunity for the workers to come together.