Labour Minister Cllr. Charles H. Gibson has said that the more available jobs are for Liberians in the Labour Market, the less the burden will be on the government and national security of the country enhanced.
Minister Gibson said job creation is predicated upon one objective; which is to ensure that the workplace is enhanced and to ensure that it has harmony for economic growth through increased employment opportunities.
Minister Gibson spoke on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 when the Ambassador of the United States, Michael McCarthy, paid him a courtesy visit at the Labour Ministry in Monrovia.
The Minister informed Amb. McCarthy that many people often misconstrue the functions of the Ministry of Labour to be where people come to judge problems between workers and employers, but as per the mandate of the Ministry, job creation is high on the agenda.
On the issue of encouraging investors; the Labour Minister maintained, “It has always been our objective. We want to employ, but again nowhere to employ because there must be an employer before we can get an employee. And so sometimes, we are found in the middle of situations, we want to ensure that employers remain in the country to ensure that they reinvest at the same time. Some workers agitate for their rights; of course, if we want to go strictly by the letter, the company may just fold up and leave. When they leave, there will be just no job for our people. So sometimes we ensure that if there are liabilities to workers to be settled, we spread it over a period of time to be paid — sometimes months or a year — so the employer will have the opportunity to continue operations and at the same time making settlement of its liability to the workers over time,” he added.
Minister Gibson added that without investment, Liberia cannot grow its economy, but noted that there are high employment opportunities in the agriculture sector of the Country.
Labour Minister Gibson further informed the U. S. Ambassador of the Government’s commitment to improving its performance in the fight against human trafficking in Liberia in line with the US State Department’s ranking on Trafficking In Persons (TIP).
“We also want to ensure that human trafficking is brought to a minimum if not curtailed in our Country.
“We have been working with your Embassy and our standing as it relates to performance has increased, we are working very hard to ensure that it increases again.
“To achieve that, we have done four things; established a modern Safe-Home for victims of trafficking and child labour, involved child labour issues as part of the fight, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with five local NGOs to roll-out educational and awareness raising campaign on trafficking and child labour, and ensure that prosecution of cases are fast-track.”
Ambassador McCarthy, in response to Minister Gibson’s statement, said the real solution to addressing some major challenges in the labour market of Liberia is job, and the real way out is foreign investment, stressing that “Without foreign investment, I don’t think you can dig your way of out this situation.”
He said in order to have improvement in the labour market that Liberia is yearning for, it will depend on how the government treats large investors in concession areas, noting, “But it has to be a win-win situation with both sides respected and are getting real gain.”
“But the fact is, investors look for stability; so, the more regular you become, the more attractive you are to investors. The better you treat the existing investors and as long as everyone is respecting both sides of the agreement, the more new investors will come,” Amb. McCarthy noted.
The US Ambassador further informed Minister Gibson that the work of the Ministry of Labour is absolutely critical and is an important part of the solution, and that he hopes that going forward, the Ministry will be able to contribute the same sense of working to lower the risk to investors and lower the questions by having stronger systems, especially the rule of law.
He used the visit to praise the Government of Liberia and the National Human Trafficking Taskforce for achievements in the fight against Trafficking In-Persons (TIP), especially following the country’s graduation from Tier-2 Watch List to Tier-2. “Everyone was happy to hear that last year that Liberia has left the Tier-2 Watch List and we hope that you keep with these records.”
Amb. McCarthy spoke of the long and special relationship between Liberia and the United States of America and expressed the hope to work with the Government of Liberia to enhance this relationship.
He was accompanied to the Ministry of Labour by Mr. Joel A. Kopp, Political and Economic Counselor at the Embassy of the United States of America, and Ms. April O’Neill, Director, Democracy, Rights and Governance Office of USAID-Liberia.