Hundreds of civil servants in collaboration with workers from the private sector, as well as human rights organizations, on Friday presented a one page petition to the government through the Ministry of Labor to warn government entities to stop what they termed as “wrongful dismissal” of union leaders at their respective workplaces.
The petition was signed by officials of the seven workers’ unions, including the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAH), Roberts International Airport Workers’ Union (RIAWU), the National Teachers Association of Liberia (NTAL), National Private Sector Health Workers’ Union of Liberia, Liberian Union of Non-academic Staff and Teachers, National Trade Union of Public Service and Allied Workers, and the Civil Society and Trade Union Institutions of Liberia.
The petition, they said, focuses more specifically on the dismissal of George Poe Williams, Secretary General, and Joseph Tamba, President of NAWHAL; Melissh P.G. Weh and Jayce W. Garniah of the RIAWU; the refusal to grant NAWHAL its union certificate of recognition; and the suspension of the collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of the RIAWU.
Mr. Williams, who presented the petition on behalf of the group, said contrary to the fact that the government has ratified the International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions C87 and C98, which state that the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention.
But the government has refused to put these international regulations into practice and has made it illegal for public servants to get organized and form or join a union, which represents their rights, he said.
“Although the Constitution guarantees the right to association and specifically refers to trade unions, the government had instituted two different labor laws: the Decent Work Act for private and the Civil Service Standing Order for the public sector, denying public servants the international and constitutional right to organize themselves into unions,” Mr. Williams said.
Therefore, “we call for the amendment of the Civil Services Standing Order, the inclusion of civil servants and maritime workers in the Decent Work Act and for the reinstatement of the dismissed union leaders,” the petition read.
Mr. Williams said all workers, including those working for the government, should have the right to organize and no union member should face dismissal, be threatened or displaced, just for defending workers’ rights and fighting for better working conditions.
Acting Labor Minister Augustine Williams, who received the petition on behalf of the government, assured the unions that he would present the petition to the government for timely consideration of its contents.