‘I would appeal that you take a policy decision to end the recruitment of casual workers,’ she said. ‘We (Legal Aid Board) are struggling to cope with complaints from casual workers who have been exploited and denied their entitlements by their employers who take advantage of loopholes in our employment laws.’
Mr. King poured scorn on Employing Agencies for working against the interest of workers. ‘The manner in which they recruit casual workers for employers is an illegal arrangement and this something we will not tolerate,’ he said. ‘It is unfortunate, workers are recruited without any reference to the Ministry,’ he said. ‘Also, it does not help the workers refer to the Ministry only when they have problems with their employers.’
Ms. Carlton-Hanciles also briefed the Minister on progress in ensuring that over hundred former workers of the MSF Construction Company (MSF Engenharia) are paid their backlog salary and given their benefits. The company had ceased operations after the Sierra Leone Road Authority (SLRA) terminated the contract with the company and its owners left the country in July 2017 without meeting their obligations to the workers.
‘We have taken the matter to the industrial Court,’ she said. ‘Fortunately, the SLRA has taken over the liabilities of the company and a new contract has been awarded the SCS Construction Company.’
The Minister said he is not surprised at what has befallen the MSF workers. He describes construction companies as the worst in terms of abusing the rights of workers. He accused them of bringing in skills from other country which are in abundance in the country. ‘Our government will not allow this to happen,’ he stressed.
The Minister and Executive Director of the Legal Aid Board agreed to meet next week to discuss the details of the collaboration between the two. ‘We have been working with your Ministry and even profile Legal Aid Board lawyers for labour matters from your Ministry,’ she said.
The meeting was climaxed with a meeting with three former workers of the MSF Construction Company – Mohamed Will, Habib Fofana and Ibrahim Kamara. They commended the Legal Aid Board the efforts so far at ensuring that they get their entitlement. ‘We have so been assured of backlog salary for four months,’ he said, adding ‘We are entitled to eight months of backlog salary.