Sierra Leone: Parliament Ratifies Conventions On Safety of Overseas Workers

Members of Parliament yesterday ratified five Conventions that are geared towards the protection of people, who travel out of Sierra Leone to seek greener pastures overseas.

The documents include: Convention 97-Migration for employment Convention (revised)1949, Convention 143- Migrant workers (supplementary provisions) 1975, Convention 155-Occupational Safety and Health 1981, Convention 187-Promotional framework for occupational Safety and Health recommendation 2006, and Maritime Labour Convention,2006.

Speaking in the Well of Parliament, Deputy Minister of Labour and Social security, Lansana Mohamed Dumbuya said the documents would help protect workers in and out of the country and that they would further help Sierra Leone to meet the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO).

He said the ratification and domestication of the conventions were very important, as that would help protect employees in the telecommunication industry.

In his contributions, Deputy Chairman of Labour Committee in Parliament, Hon. Susan Sesay, said the conventions were not controversial, hence urged his colleagues to ratify them as that will protect Sierra Leoneans working in Kuwait and other parts of the world.

She observed that some employers refused to provide protective gears to their workers, hence exposed them to danger during operations.

She continued that with the ratification of the conventions, workers would be protected and be safe at their various work places.

Hon. Foday Mario Kamara of the National Grand Coalition (NGC) said the conventions would bind Sierra Leone and other countries across the world, adding that most people seeking greener pastures were not documented and that things would always be difficult for them even with the ratification of the conventions.

Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara of the All People's Congress (APC) noted that the Ministry of Labour should pay key attention to the level of employment done in and out of the country, which he said, most times lead to the loss of lives because employees in most cases fall into the wrong hands.

He said the agencies that were responsible for overseas employment were mostly contracted through social media and that whenever problems arise; there would be no one to be held accountable.

"The Ministry should make sure to investigate these agencies thoroughly before certifying them to undertake any employment transaction," he urged.

Hon. Kamara said the health and safety workers should be looked into, as most people working in hospitals were not properly protected.

"We are urging you to not only create means of which jobs will be provided to our locals, but also make sure they are protected."

Hon. Sahr Charles of the Coalition for Change (C4C) observed that the ratification of the documents would not be a problem, but rather the enforcement should be looked into.

He disclosed that certain workers at OCTEA Mining Company lost their lives with nothing tangible reported or done about such ugly incident, thus urging that the Ministry of Labour intensifies its monitoring process in domesticating the documents.

"We want to see that the penalties slated in these conventions are implemented to the letter. The intended effect should be realised for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans," he urged.

For Hon. Hassan Sesay, the conversations were not new as they have been dealt with long ago, hence commended the ministry for bringing them up for ratification.

He noted that people do travel to seek greener pastures without the knowledge of the environments, and that some were not aware about type of work or employer they would be meeting abroad.

He said the conventions would help dignify them in their respective work places.

"It will give more relevance to the international world now that we are about to ratify these conventions. It will dignify the workers both locally and internationally. We look forward to seeing more of these conventions to help protect our workers in and out of the country. We also urge the ministry that they inform parliament on a regular basis on what employees are encountering out there," he said.

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