By Mohamed Sheriff
Information Attache’, Geneva, Switzerland
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Alpha Osman Timbo, and his technical team have paid a courtesy call on the newly elected Director-General of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mr Gilbert F. Houngbo, at ILO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
The aim of the engagement was to extend felicitations from His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio to the First African ILO Director-General in the history of the organisation. The Minister also used the occasion to assure the ILO DG of the Government of Sierra Leone’s support for him personally and to his leadership and management team at the ILO.
It could be recalled that, a few months ago, the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) elected the former Prime Minister of Togo, as the new ILO Director-General.
Mr Houngbo is the 11th Director-General of the ILO, and the first African to hold the post. The new Director-General’s five-year term will begin on 1st October 2022. The current Director-General, Mr. Guy Ryder, from the United Kingdom, has held office since 2012.
While introducing the Sierra Leone delegation to the ILO Director-General elect and his team, Sierra Leone’s Deputy Ambassador to Switzerland and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other organisations in Geneva, H. E. Samuel U.B Saffa Esq., expressed excitement and disclosed that he was honoured by the warm reception his delegation received from the members of the ILO, particularly from the Director-General. The Deputy Ambassador reiterated that Sierra Leone would always support the leadership of the ILO at all times, to enhance cooperation.
In his brief statement, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Alpha Osman Timbo, pointed out that the essence of the gathering was to strengthen the bilateral partnership and foster development between the Government of Sierra Leone and the International Labour Organisation.
He catalogued the numerous reforms made by the government through his ministry, adding that the government is reforming laws that are creating a conducive environment for investment and job creation.
These, the minister said, will improve the lives and working conditions of workers in the country.
He informed the Director-General on the current nationwide consultative meeting on the Review of the Labour Laws in Sierra Leone, noting that the current review and implementation of the Labour law need technical and financial support from the ILO.
The Minister applauded the Outgoing ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, and his team for their technical support to Sierra Leone over the years, and reiterated the government’s willingness to fulfill its ILO obligations.
In his short response, the Director-General Elect used the occasion to thank His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio for his congratulatory message and assured of strengthening cooperation between ILO and its Member States, including Sierra Leone, in promoting and protecting employees and employers for a productive environment.
The ILO Director-General Elect described his election victory as a success for Africans and appealed for solidarity and support. He recalled his positive encounter with one of Sierra Leone’s indigenous people, Ambassador Idriss Elba, and his wife and noted that “If I’m what I’m now is because of the contributions one of ILO’s major Ambassadors, Idriss Elba, who provided Advocacy, Visibilities and Resource Mobilisation to our organisation. He and his wife helped us organise a successful mission. For those reasons, I have to go to Sierra Leone”, the ILO Director-General said.
The DG assured the Sierra Leone delegation of his willingness to deepen collaboration and continued capacity building with member states of the ILO.
The Director-General Elect of the International Labour Organisation, Mr Gilbert F. Houngbo is expected to visit Africa this year.