On International Labour Day… President of SLEF, Kobi Walker, Advocates for Labour Standards and SME Support

Ambassador Kobi Walker.jpg

By Amin Kef (Ranger)

International Labour Day, commonly known as May Day, was celebrated worldwide on the 1st May, 2024 to honor the contributions and struggles of the labor force. In Sierra Leone, the President of the Sierra Leone Employers Federation (SLEF), Ambassador Kobi Walker, seized the occasion to highlight the significance of social justice and decent work for all.

In a statement delivered Ambassador Walker addressed a diverse audience, including His Excellency the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, RTD Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who was unavoidably absent, Hon. Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Cabinet Ministers, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps, Members of the fourth and fifth estates, Director-General of NASSIT, President of Sierra Leone Labour Congress, esteemed employers, and employees.

He underscored the dual themes of this year’s celebration: the International Labour Organization’s call for “Social Justice and Decent Work for All” and Sierra Leone’s national imperative of “Upholding Labour Standards to Accelerate Socio-Economic Development.” These themes, he noted, reflect a shared commitment to fostering a fair, prosperous, and progressive Sierra Leone.

As the head of SLEF, Ambassador Kobi Walker reiterated the Federation’s unwavering dedication to elevating labour standards, advocating for conducive business policies and ensuring that social justice becomes a tangible reality for all workers. He lauded the accomplishments of the past year, particularly the enactment of significant legislative frameworks aimed at strengthening the foundation of the labor force and advancing the interests of both employers and employees.

Key legislative achievements highlighted by Ambassador Walker include:

* The enactment of the Employment Act 2023, guaranteeing fair working conditions and promoting stability in the labour market.

*Implementation of the Overseas Employment and Migration Worker Act 2023, ensuring protection for Sierra Leoneans seeking employment abroad.

*Introduction of the Work Permit Act 2023, regulating the entry of foreign workers while safeguarding local employment opportunities.

He emphasized the importance of fostering harmonious industrial relations, acknowledging the pivotal role they play in Sierra Leone’s socio-economic development and pledged continued efforts to uphold labour standards, recognizing them not only as statutory requirements but as essential drivers of national progress.

In addressing the challenges faced by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), particularly regarding compliance with recent legislative changes, he called for thoughtful reform to alleviate the burden on SMEs, suggesting tailored collective bargaining agreements or exemptions to support their growth and sustainability.

Ambassador Kobi Walker ended by reaffirming SLEF’s commitment to collaboration with the Government, workers and the international community to ensure social justice in workplaces and access to dignified work for all Sierra Leoneans. He urged collective action towards building a brighter future guided by social justice and decent work principles.

As Sierra Leone joined the global community in celebrating International Labour Day, Ambassador Walker extended warm wishes for a prosperous future, echoing a sentiment shared by all: “May God bless us all and may God abundantly bless this land that we all so love… Our very own Sierra Leone.”


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