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NLC Berates Sierra Leone For Arrests, Detention Of Trade unionists


NLC Berates Sierra Leone For Arrests, Detention of Trade unionists

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr. Ayuba Wabba has rebuked the President of the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mr. Julius Maad Bio, over what he termed arrests and detention of Sierra Leone trade unionists and interference in union activities.

Mr. Wabba wrote:

Sierra Leone president Julius Maada Bio

Arrests And Detention Of Sierra Leone Trade Unionists And Interference In Union Activities

We received with concern the arrests and detention of leaders  of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress (SLLC) by the Police in Sierra Leone to stop one of its affiliate unions, the Motor Bike Riders Union from holding its National Delegates conference on December 14th 2018.

The storming of a union office by security operatives    to prevent a union from freely electing its officials and detaining them ostensibly on allegations of threat to public peace,  tantamount to undue interference in union affairs and is highly condemnable.

Those arrested and detained include:

  1. Mr. M.B Williams –  Vice President, SLLC
  2. Mr. Emmanuel Pratt – Chairman Financial and General- Purpose Committee (F&GPC), SLLC
  3. Mr. Edward Kamara – Vice Chairman Financial and General-Purpose Committee (F&GPC), SLLC
  4. Mr. Aaron Bioma – National Coordinator Informal Economy Committee, SLLC
  5. Mr. Ballad Y. Koroma – Executive Member, SLLC
  6. Mr. Obia Kamara – President, Motor Bike Riders Union, and two other members of the union.

Information reaching us confirm that this attack and arrests of union leaders was a desperate attempt to hijack the Motor Bike Riders Union and impose a government candidate on the union, and this latest action amount to a series of attempts by the government of Sierra Leone to interfere in trade union administration and suppress its activities.

This brazen tendency to undermine trade union independence in Sierra Leone runs against the grain of international instruments the government is signatory to and bound to respect such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and the African Union Democracy and Good Governance Protocol as well as ratification of   ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

It is significant to remind the Sierra Leone government that these international instruments expressively and without doubt enjoins that state parties and signatories provide guarantees for enjoyment of these civil liberties they promote without let or hindrance.

Thus, undermining workers’ rights and interfering in trade union affairs by stopping legitimate elections and harassing union leaders is not only obnoxious  but undermines the progress of  Sierra Leoneans, if not the African  people,  towards attaining  democracy and good governance.

We call on the Sierra Leonean government to unconditionally and immediately release all trade union leaders and members so detained and to cease further undue interference in trade union affairs.

Rather, the government is urged to provide a conducive environment for the development and operation of trade unions and engage them in social dialogue as legitimate partners in the sustainable development of the country for the well-being of the people.

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