ITUC- Africa urges Weah to reset industrial relations space in Liberia

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The African regional office of International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa ) has asked Liberia president George Weah to reset industrial relation space in the country.

Secretary General of ITUC Africa, Kwasi Adu-Amankwah in an open letter addressed to President George Weal said the appealed became necessary following the erosion of good industrial relations practices in a toxic milieu in Liberia.

“For instance, the Ministry of Labour has continued to deny recognition to workers and their trade unions in the public sector, disregarding the country’s constitution and relevant extant continental and international treaty-binding mechanisms to which Liberia is signatory.

“Liberia is signatory to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (the Banjul Charter), adopted on 28 June 1981 in The Gambia. History has it that Liberia played a significant role in the development of the Charter.

“Precisely in 1979, the Assembly of Heads of States and Governments of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) meeting in Monrovia, Liberia, unanimously requested the Secretary-General of the OAU to convene a committee of experts to draft a regional human rights instrument for Africa, similar to the European and Inter-American human rights conventions. Unfortunately, Liberia is today not respecting the provisions of this instrument.

“Article 10 (Right to Freedom of Association) of the Charter accords every worker in Liberia the right to freely join and form associations/trade unions of their choice.

“This provision is compatible with the country’s constitution, which says, “Workers without distinction shall be allowed to join and form trade unions of their choosing”. Also, Article 11 (Right to Assembly) and Article 9 (Right to Receive Information and Free Expression) are some basic rights meant to safeguard workplace rights and advance harmonious industrial relations practices.

“As Africa’s oldest Republic, Liberia is one of the founding members of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which it joined on 28 June 1919. The country has ratified 27 ILO Conventions, including the 8 Fundamental Conventions, 2 Governance conventions and 17 Technical conventions. Conventions 87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise) and 98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining) were ratified in 1948 and 1949, respectively. These conventions are directly related to advancing the protection of workplace rights and industrial relations.

“Sadly Mr. President, the ITUC-Africa continues to witness the provisions of these conventions being selectively picked and applied against the spirit and letter of these instruments.

“For instance, Article 2 of Convention 87 states that “Workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, to join organisations of their choosing without previous authorisation”.

“Ensure that the country’s national tripartite social dialogue forum is constituted and supported to function effectively,” the letter further read.