Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September 2014, 11:43 GMT

2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Liberia

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 11 June 2009
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2009 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Liberia, 11 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c52caddc.html [accessed 30 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 3,900,000
Capital: Monrovia
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 105 – 111

After flouting trade union rights for decades, the Firestone rubber plantation signed a truly historic collective agreement. The work on revising the country's labour law started.

Trade union rights in law

Serious clashes between labour law and trade union rights: The ILO repeated its request that the government bring its legislation into line with conventions 87 and 98, stressing the seriousness of the following problems:

  • Employees of state-run enterprises and the civil service cannot form trade unions. Agricultural workers are not allowed to join industrial unions. The government's Labour Practices Review Board has the right to supervise trade union elections.

  • There are currently no adequate provisions or sanctions to guarantee workers adequate protection against discrimination during recruitment or at work, nor against interference in union affairs by employers and their organisations. Workers in state enterprises do not have collective bargaining rights.

Step towards reforming labour law: At the end of 2006, the Labour Minister promised a major reform of labour legislation. A law adopted in October 2006 that came into force in 2007 annulled Decree 12 of 1980, which had banned strikes.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2008

Government obstruction and interference: At the start of the year, the Ministry of Labour repeatedly obstructed the work of a new trade union centre, the Liberia Labour Congress (LLC), which was officially registered on 7 January and resulted from the merger of the Congress of National Trade Unions of Liberia (CONATUL) and the Liberian Federation of Labour Unions (LFLU). The LLC was not invited to attend several national and tripartite forums by the Ministry of Labour, which preferred to invite local unions or civil society organisations. By May the situation had improved, however.

Trade union recognition and collective agreement at Firestone: On 6 August, after four months of intensive negotiations, the Firestone Agricultural Workers' Union of Liberia (FAWUL) and the management of the Firestone Rubber Plantation concluded a collective agreement. This was a historic victory for the 4,500 workers covered by the three-year agreement, which provides for wage rises and better working conditions. Since the establishment of a democratic government at the end of 2005, the workers at Firestone and their representatives had been exerting determined pressure to get their rights recognised and had been met by harsh anti-unionism and police repression, often of a very violent nature. At the end of 2007, after months of court cases and strong trade union pressure at international level, Firestone had been forced to recognise the FAWUL. As the second-largest rubber plantation in the world, Firestone has often been regarded as a "law unto itself" in Liberia, with its own rules and a management-controlled "yellow" union.

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