Monrovia, May 19, 2021…. A three-day Capacity building Workshop for Government and Social Partners to follow up on requests by the Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR) organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour has opened in Monrovia.
Speaking during the start of the Workshop, ILO Country Manager and Project Coordinator, Mr. Salif Massalay said that the workshop is focused on International Labour Standards (ILS) reporting. He traced the roots of the International Labour Standards (ILS) to the First World War “Treaty of Versailles”, saying that ILS Conventions and Recommendations are agreed ILO Principles by ILO Tripartite Members (Workers, Employers and Government).
According to Mr. Massalay, there are three categories of ILO Conventions: a) the “Fundamental or Core ILO Conventions”, b) the “Governance or Priority Conventions”, and c) the “Technical Conventions”. There are eight (8) Fundamental Conventions and Liberia has ratified six (6) of these. Additionally, Liberia has ratified two of the four Governance Conventions and only seventeen (17) of the one hundred and seventeen (117) Technical Conventions.
Mr. Massalay said that due to a number of reasons, some key Conventions have not been ratified by Liberia, adding that there are conflicting labour laws in Liberia. He named the Decent Work Act of 2015 and the Civil Service Standing Orders as two conflicting labour laws in Liberia.
The ILO Country Manager raised the concern that although Liberia has ratified ILO Conventions 87 and 98, certain category of workers in Liberia are been banned from Unionism, which is in contravention to the ratified Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining respectively..
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Labour, Assistant Labour Minister for Regional Labour Affairs, Hon. Wilson V. Dumoe admitted that there are some degrees of ambiguity in the Decent Work Act or the Labour Law. To this end, all partners in the labour sector of the Liberia have agreed that there should be a review of the Decent Work Act to ensure that all issues with the Decent Work Act are standardized.
Hon. Dumoe said that Labour issues are quite dedicate and called on participants to take the workshop very seriously and make the necessary interventions, noting that all labour matters cut across both the public and private sector.
For his part, the Lead Facilitator of the Workshop Cllr. Patrice P. Weah noted that the expected outcome of the capacity building workshop is to strengthen the capacity of Government, social partners and other key stakeholders to actively and effectively follow-up with the government to report on ratified conventions and other issues raised by the ILO Supervisory Bodies.
The workshop is being held from May 17-19, 2021 at the Boulevard Palace Hotel in Sinkor, Monrovia and brings together over forty tripartite members and other key stakeholders including the Civil Service Agency (CSA), Civil Servants Association, Health Workers, Press Union of Liberia (PUL), Labour Reporters, Judges, Law Practitioners, and Hearing Officers among others.
Black ground to the workshop:
Since a number of years, Liberia has not submitted any reports under ratified Conventions. In 2020, none of the reports requested under ratified Conventions (C29, C87, C98, C105, C111, C112, C113, C114 and C144) were received. In 2021, in addition to these reports, the Government is called upon to provide reports under Conventions Nos. 81, and 150.
Discussions with the Labour Minister and the Assistant Labour Minister have been held in February/March 2021 to discuss how the ILO can assist the Government in its commitment to clear the backlog in reports to be sent under ratified Conventions. Obstacles referred to from the Ministry’s side in relation to reporting include, among other things, the lack of dedicated staff in charge of drafting the reports as well as limited national capacities to follow-up on requests to the Government by the CEACR and to apply ratified Conventions
As part of the strategy discussed with the Labour Minister to clear the backlog in reporting under article 22 of the ILO Constitution, as well as ensuring that the capacity of national stakeholders are built to ensure that reports are submitted in a timely manner, thus national consultants with longstanding experience as regards the ILO supervisory system with background in law will be recruited to work with the Ministry of Labour, social and other partners including lawyers, judges, law practitioners and labour reporters to build their capacity on how to follow-up on requests by the Committee on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR).