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Sierra Leone ratification of ILO instruments is opportunity to transform industrial relations, says union

2 September, 2021IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, the Artisans, Services and General Employees Union (ASGEmU), says the ratification of nine International Labour Organization (ILO) instruments by Sierra Leone is an opportunity to transform industrial relations and promote decent work in the country.

ILO general secretary Guy Ryder at the signing. Photo: ILO

The ILO says the ratifications of eight conventions and a protocol, which took place on 25 August, were unprecedented. The eight conventions are the Migration for Employment Convention (Revised, 1949) (C97), Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 (C143), Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (C155), Labour Statistics Convention (C160), Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (C181)Promotional Framework for Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 2006 (C187) and Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (C189).

The conventions are aimed at addressing the decent work deficit common among workers in the country, including for migrant workers, and improving working conditions for precarious workers who have no job security and are poorly paid. In most instances, precarious workers are employed through third parties such as private employment agencies who often exploit them and violate their rights. The conventions include those on occupational health and safety, which has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 2014 protocol to the forced labour convention 1930 was also ratified. This is important for ending human trafficking of migrant workers and women in the country and abroad. Forced labour has been reported in the country involving migrant workers, while thousands of Sierra Leoneans have been victims of slavery in other West African countries, Libya, and the Middle East.

Muluku Tarawally, general secretary of ASGEmU says:

“This is one of the best things that has happened for the workers of Sierra Leone in a long time. It is an opportunity to complete the labour law review activities in which unions are participating. Additionally, the ratification of the conventions strengthens union demands for the inclusion of all ratified conventions into national labour laws. It is important that government is backing the adoption of international labour standards, and this shows that it is committed.”

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa says:

“The ratification of the nine instruments shows the power of social dialogue in which unions and the government show commitment towards decent work. This ensures the protection of workers’ rights and better working conditions for workers through national laws and international labour standards. It is important that unions are not only supporting but are also taking part in the domestication of the conventions into national labour laws.”