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A three man delegation from the Trade Union Confederation of Sierra Leone (TUC-SL) was among a total of 850 participants at the 16th World Conference of Trade Unions held in Athens, Greece, from 6th-10th April, 2011.
Members of the TUC-SL delegation included the Vice President Mariatu Finoh, Secretary General Moses Gbondo and Mary Sesay, a member of the executive council.
The conference which attracted representatives from over 100 countries across the globe, focused on the international economic crisis, its consequences for the working people and it effects on the global trade union movement and the urgent need for the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) to respond accordingly to the contemporary needs.
Speaking at the conference, General Secretary of WFTU Comrade George Mavrikos, said “In a period of sharp rise in unemployment, dramatic shrinking of the real income of workers, reduction of social spending budgets, raising of the retirement age, a series of acts show the parasitism and the decay of the capitalist system”.
During the conference, the comprehensive and conclusive report of WFTU’s action for the past five years was made, and these included the proper functioning of the collective groups, the International Action Days, the Trade Union Training Seminars, the 10 very important international-global trade union conferences, the conferences on the working of women and immigrants, the WFTU publications and the role WFTU played on the International Organizations such as the TUC-SL.
The Sierra Leone delegation delivered a position paper at the mammoth gathering of trade unionists, highlighting the successes recorded thus far and the numerous challenges inhibiting the effectiveness of the organization.
Amongst the said constraints are the lack of capacity and free hand, lack of training as well as international attention.
The WFTU reacted to the delegation’s concerns and asked that a capacity building proposal be forwarded to the secretariat immediately; which has already been done.
Meanwhile, TUC-SL, after a long struggle, has finally succeeded in securing three bargaining certificates, a move that has placed the organization at a strong and legal position to achieve set objectives.
The three bargaining certificates gives TUC-SL the legitimacy to target workers in the mining, commercial, insurance, accounting and manufacturing sectors.
The organization is currently working towards securing a bargaining certificate to cover the hospitality industry that includes hotels, guest houses, restaurants, night clubs, entertainment centers and other business outlets such as State Lottery and Mercury.
TUC-SL current has four registered trade unions that cater for different aspects of the workforce including mining, commercial, manufacturing, hotel, Sierra Leone Printing, private security, construction, agriculture and the public service that covers non-governmental organizations.
In addition to the four registered trade unions are five grassroots based organizations that deal with women’s issues, child labour, infant and child mortality, girl child education, youth empowerment and gender equality.
TUC-SL recently took up a matter involving a mine worker who suffered a severe burn resulting from an electric oven that cost him his left eye. The worker, Jonathan Massaquoi of the African Minerals Limited, is currently getting treated in Ghana, courtesy of the intervention of TUC-SL.
By Theophilus S. Gbenda
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