“I Don’t Have Anywhere to Complain About my Salary…” – President Bio Tells Sierra Leone Labour Congress
On Monday, 4 May 2021, President Julius Maada Bio was at the Family Kingdom Auditorium, Aberdeen, Freetown, where the Sierra Leone Labour Congress commemorated International Labour Day.
Speaking at the event, President Bio urged workers in Sierra Leone to ensure fairness in the workplace.
He said he felt honoured to be part of the celebration, simply because he is also a worker, an employee of the government of Sierra Leone.
“I was employed on the 4th of April 2018 for a period of five years and eligible for another five years to steer the mantle of leadership of this great nation. Sadly, for me as a worker, I don’t have anywhere to complain about salary increment or improved conditions of service and I cannot even go on strike,” he stated.
“On the issue of salaries and wages for workers, it is important to note that since 2018 to date my government has made 30% salary increment for teachers, 50% salary increment for Military, Police, Fire Force and Correctional Services; 50% salary increment for workers at ONS and CISU; 25% salary increment for workers at Audit Service, Anti-Corruption Commission and Statistics Sierra Leone; and 75% salary increment for university lecturers and workers.
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“In 2019, my government also increased the minimum wage from Five Hundred Thousand Leones (Le500,000) to Six Hundred Thousand Leones (Le600,000). I know workers always want more salary increments but what we have done so far should give workers hope that this is a government that cares and a government that is fair. Let me also state that preparations for the establishment of a Wages and Compensation Commission are at an advanced stage,” he said.
He also said that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and its social partners have conducted at least two reviews of some of the labour laws of the country; and that two significant legislations have been drafted.
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“The Labour Bill, 2022: This will be an Act to consolidatete and repeal the Factories Act, 1974; General Law (Business Start-up) (Amendment) Act, 2007; Regulations of Wages and Industrial Relations Act, 1971; Employers and Employed Act Cap 212, 1956; Workman’s Compensation Act Cap 219 and the Trade Union Act 1944.
“Overseas Employment and Migrants Bill, 2022: This will be an Act to provide for the regulations of overseas employment, to provide for the establishment of a safe and fair system of migration, to provide for the protection of the rights and welfare of migrant workers and members of their families and to provide for other related matters.”
Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, Max Conteh, thanked the President for gracing the occasion and all workers and affiliate unions that are committed to nationbuilding. He said that the conference was intended to solidify their strengths to demand fairness at the places of work, using their collective efforts.
He called on employers to treat their workers fairly in terms of wages, salaries, and other conditions or benefits in return for efficient service delivery and wealth creation, and urged the government to change the country’s labour laws which he said do not meet the current challenges of the labour market.
“Your Excellency, notwithstanding the challenges we face as a nation, the Labour Congress appreciates you and your government for providing the leadership within the context of the New Direction. We commend the government for allowing dialogue with the Sierra Leone Labour Congress to find a lasting solution to the issues around welfare maximisation. May God Bless Sierra Leone,” he concluded.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Alpha Timbo said that the celebration of May Day is an important milestone in the history of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress, adding that International Labour Day is celebrated the world over to commemorate the struggles and sacrifices of workers, labourers, and the working class.
He also stated that the President of the nation should address and motivate workers of all classes for their relentless efforts in advancing development of the nation, adding that workers are facing challenges.
He called on employers to work with their employees, so that terms and conditions can be reviewed on a regular basis. “Despite the challenges of the Coronavirus on economies and the recent war between Russia and Ukraine, the New Direction government has increased the number of workers on the wage bill. More teachers, more nurses have been recruited.
“As the Labour Minister, I am proud to say that this government has done a lot in terms of salary increment and other facilities for workers. We will continue to work with other employers for dignified conditions of service for our workers,” Minister Timbo assured.