Fellow workers, I bring you fraternal greetings from the Sierra Leone Employers Federation.
The world is enduring a staggering downturn amidst the spread of COVID-19. There is no gainsaying the fact that these negative consequences are particularly harsh for workers most of whom have suffered tremendous losses in terms of income and employment.
But as the Good Books say, we should thank God for everything.
We are indeed very grateful for being alive to see this day as, quite unfortunately, some of our colleagues are amongst the over 200,000 citizens worldwide who have died as a result of the coVID-19. Others are either quarantined or in specially designated COVID-19 hospitals or treatment centres.
Here in Sierra Leone we are still mourning the sudden passing away of Mr Jennings Anthony Brian Wright, President of the Sierra Leone Labour Congress and General Secretary of the Hotel, Food Drinks Tobacco Entertainment and Tourism Workers Union last Thursday.
We will all miss his wise counsel and his commitment to dialogue as a means of setting industrial issues. Indeed he was instrumental in concluding the Side Agreement of the Hotel and Tourist Trade Group which set out a range of options available to employers as they address the issue of workers resulting from the harsh and ravaging impact of the COVID-19 on enterprises worldwide and in Sierra Leone in particular.
May his kind and gentle soul rest in eternal peace.
For this year’s theme, I wll hover around the impact of the COVID-19 on workers and enterprises worldwide.
This has been eloquently captured in the Press Release issued by the International Organization (ILO) on the 29th of April 2020 by the Director General of ILO Mr Guy Ryder who among other things, noted the need to protect the most vulnerable because for millions of workers, no income means no food, no security and no future.
Millions of businesses around the world are barely breathing with unemployment levels reaching an all-time high.
As a Federation, we continue to explore all avenues of relief that are most effective in preserving employer-employee relationships and securing the foundations for a robust recovery once we put this pandemic behind us.
To this effect, The Sierra Leone Employers’ Federation and the Sierra Leone Labour Congress issued a Joint Statement and Press Release on the 6h of April 2020 on the Covid-19 Crisis in Sierra Leone and how as a nation we can collectively respond. These were carried on the electronic print and social media. In the Statement we recommended to the Government measures to support workers, enterprises hard hit sectors, supply chain and also measures to support the recovery of the economy.
Evidence points a dire picture of the impact of COVID-19 on workers, but we stand secure in the belief that with our concerted efforts, we will get past this crisis and hit the road to recovery in the not-too-distant future.
The Federation would want to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Sierra Leone for the measures put in place to combat the COVID -19 which has limited the number of infections and deaths in Sierra Leone.
We continue to admonish all workers to strictly observe the medical and hygiene protocols and other directives of Government.
Finally it is my fervent prayer and firm belief that with the collective efforts of all Sierra Leoneans we will defeat the COVID-19 so that by the time we celebrate May Day next year, COVID-19 will be behind us and the economy will be on the path to recovery.
I thank you and May God/Allah bless you, your families and loved ones and of course the country we love so well… Our Mama Sierra Leone.