Labour Congress Cautions SLPP Gov’t As Exec of Bike Riders Union Jailed
In a Press Conference organized by the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC), Sierra Express Media was updated according to the institution mentioned above, that the leadership of the SLLC wishes to bring to the attention of government and the general public that the continuous interference into the elections and administration by state authorities into one of their affiliate Unions – the Sierra Leone Commercial Motor Bike Riders Union (SLCMBRU). The SLLC highlighted in their press statement that they received a letter from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on the 7th August, 2018 requesting Congress as the parent body of all Trade Unions in this country to conduct an investigation on the alleged appointments of some lower level leaders of the bike riders based on sentiments by the Acting President of the Union.
According to them, a four –man committee was constituted and charged with the responsibility of investigating the circumstances leading to the disharmony among the ranks of the Bike Riders Union and to report. Upon completion of the investigation and submission of the report of the committee to the SLLC, the report was immediately submitted to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security on the 26th September , 2018 and 3rd October, 2018 respectively for further deliberations and recommendations on the way forward by both the Labour Congress and the Ministry of Labour.
The Vice President, Alhaji Muctar Williams read in a Press Statement “ Unfortunately, this meeting did not take place and instead the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Security wrote instructing the executive of the Motor Bike Riders Union to conduct a delegate conference in 15 days. This, in our considered opinion, contravenes the Constitution of the Union and also National and International legal instruments. The Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC) was very much disturbed on the context of the letter from the Deputy Minister and urgently requested meeting with the Ministry of Labour to discuss the way forward. The meeting was held on Thursday 11th October, 2018 with the Deputy Minister in attendance. At that meeting, it was resolved that all letters from the Ministry of Labour to the Union for holding of elections be put aside until the matter is further investigated by the parties. On Wednesday 24th October, 2018, the SLLC was taken aback when information reached the congress that a contingent of Police personnel stormed the BRU Headquarters, forcefully removed the substantive officials of the union and barricaded the office. Further, the National President of the union and a number of other officials of the union were not only invited by the Police for questioning but denied arbitrarily for a number of days. Even more surprising is that after this development, the aggrieved party took occupancy of the office aided by the Sierra Leone Police (SLP).
Against this background, the Labour Congress hereby condemns in its entirety the action of the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) who stormed the Bike Riders Union Headquarter office and forcefully removed the substantive officials of the union and also barricaded the office. Congress also hereby state further that this act of suppression by state institutions especially the Sierra Leone Police (SLP) will not be tolerated. We therefore view this as a blatant infringement of workers’ rights as enshrined in Article 3(1 & 2) of ILO Convention 87 of 1949 on Freedom of Association stated as follows:
Workers’ and employers’ organizations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organize their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes;
The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof;Sierra Leone is a signatory to the above stated ILO Convention and if this is side-stepped has the potential for disruption of the currently harmonious and peaceful industrial relations we all enjoy in the country. In light of the above, the SLLC is calling on all state authorities to stop interfering into the activities of Trade Unions; that the Acting National President and his executive take possession of the National Headquarters of the Sierra Leone Commercial Bike Riders Union; the SLLC also keeps in view the interference into the activities of other affiliate members, that is the Motor Drivers Union and the Sierra Leone Traders Union (Market women) and it is closely monitoring development.
In conclusion, the SLLC demands the maintenance of industrial peace through legitimate actions by all parties to resolve the current impasse. We therefore request the restoration of the executive and speedy conduct or completion of the election process already started that would bring into office a new executive for the Sierra Leone Bike Riders Union.
By: Allieu Badara Kamara
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