On International Workers’ Day, Sierra Leone Labour Congress President Mohamed Salieu Bangura voiced his concern over the influx of foreign laborers and the prevalence of contract and casualization in both private and public sectors in Sierra Leone.
He emphasized that the violations of human and trade union rights, unfair and wrongful termination/dismissals of workers, non-implementation of collective bargaining agreements, lack of consultations on worker welfare, and failure to implement the current national minimum wage were major challenges facing the labor movement in the country.
President Bangura stressed the need for good governance, democracy, rule of law, and curbing general lawlessness to promote sustainable socio-economic development and political stability.
He criticized the state’s insufficient attention to the well-being of workers in the informal economy and the non-payment of severance benefits to those who previously worked for the Sierra Leone Airport Authority.
To encourage formalization of the sector, he urged the government to provide incentives and develop a comprehensive policy for food security that reduces rice importation and supports other food production.
President Mohamed Bangura further called on the government to address the rapid depreciation of the leone against foreign currencies, which has raised the cost of living for workers and Sierra Leoneans.
He suggested adopting a human-face tax regime that does not discourage investment. Despite passing a new National Minimum Wage of NLe800 effective from 1 April 2023, he pointed out that the wage does not meet the intended cost of living, and called for an urgent review of the minimum wage, which has fallen from above $100 to below $40.
To prevent some government institutions from “dollarizing” their terms and conditions of service, he emphasized the need to expedite the establishment of the Wages and Compensation Commission after the recent passage of the Bill.
He also appealed to the government to financially support the Sierra Leone Labour Congress for workers’ education.
On behalf of the executive and membership of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, he expressed gratitude to workers for their support and urged them to use International Workers’ Day as an opportunity to unite and find pragmatic solutions to socio-economic challenges facing their members and the nation.
He emphasized the importance of labor unions being part of the policymaking, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of government projects and programs.