Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 December 2018:
There was uproar and consternation in Sierra Leone last week after the arrest and detention of trade union leaders by police, at a meeting in their office in Freetown. They were subsequently released after protest by the opposition APC party.
The reason for their arrest is still not clear. But its seriousness for the country’s democratic freedoms, was enough to prompt the International Labour Congress to write to the president, expressing its concern.
Yesterday, Tuesday 18 December 2018, a high-level delegation from the Sierra Leone Labour Congress met with president Julius Maada Bio at State House, where according to State House report, they ‘ pledged their commitment to the Sierra Leone Peoples Party government and support for the agenda of president Julius Maada Bio’.
The Secretary General of the Labour Congress – Mr. Max Conteh, said they are pleased to meet the President and commended him for his tremendous strides in improving the conditions of service for workers in the country, mentioning the recent increase in the minimum allowance for pensioners in the country.
Conteh said that the Labour Congress has its own part to play in the development process of the country, and assured the president of their commitment in supporting the government’s priority programmes.
He expressed satisfaction with the new administration’s openness to consultation and engagement.
“We thank you for this opportunity because we believe as the fountain of honour, justice ends at your table. We also want to thank you for within your short time in office you have listened to our cries, one of which is the pension issues which we had battled for years before you came into office. You promised to take action on that and we are pleased that you have addressed that issue now.
“In our history, within the Labour Congress, this is the shortest time we have seen results from a government. Our demands and calls are being adhered to and we believe it is as a result of your concern that we are part of your governance structure. We want to pledge our commitment to working with you and will never allow you to fail. We believe in you and we want you to succeed,” he assured.
In response, president Bio told the trade union leaders that he was particularly delighted that there is a shared desire and commitment to move the nation forward, noting that he was ready to work with everyone in the best interest of the country.
President Bio noted that the country is not happy with the present impasse within the Labour Congress, particularly at a time when his government is focusing on re-branding the image of the county.
He appealed to the Labour Congress not to allow politics to affect their usual operations.
“The development of this country requires the collective effort of us all. We are doing our part and expect you to play your own. We are encouraged by how our reputation is being cleansed so far. Therefore, it bothers me when the reputation of our country is being tarnished. We need to work together, and I will frown at anyone trying to involve politics in trade union issues,” he warned.