MOL, ILO Embark On Massive Awareness On Revised HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy 

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The Ministry of Labor, in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Liberia’s office, has launched a massive dissemination and awareness-raising campaign on the newly revised HIV-AIDS Workplace Policy.

   Speaking to participants in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, the ILO County Coordinator, Salif Haji Massalay, said it was the first phase of the campaign, which covers Nimba, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Bomi counties.

   He said the policy will cover all workers and employers without distinctions, but noted that the responsibility for the implementation of the project lies with both employers and workers in the workplace. He noted that the HIV and AIDS Workplace Revised Policy will run for the next five years.

   He informed the participants that ILO developed the policy based on several national and international documents and policies that speak against discrimination in the world of work.

   He named several ILO Conventions, such as Convention 111, which speaks on occupation and employment at the workplace. According to him, the document says nobody should be discriminated against in the workplace because of ill-health.

   His remarks also drew into focus the relevance of Convention 155, “Occupational Health and Safety”, which talks about the health of workers in the workplace no matter their conditions, and that measures should be put in place to ensure that they are normal.

   Additionally, Massalay indicated that Convention 158, “Termination of Employment Contracts”, emphasizes that an employee’s contract should not be terminated because of illnesses, especially when such illness is not a hazard to other people, as long as the individual is careful in interacting with others. Convention 150, “Vocational and Rehabilitation Convention” and “ILO Recommendation 200” also talk about non-discrimination at the workplace, and that there should be a conducive workplace where everybody will feel that they are working. He noted that all these conventions are the backbone of the Revised Policy.

   He added that the goal of the policy is to guide government, employers and workers on how to go about changing behavior in the workplace.

   He thanked the Ministry of Labor, through its Division of HIV and AIDS, the National AIDS Commission, and partners for their many support during the development of the policy. He also thanked the consultant and facilitator, David Kirlee Swen, in guarding the process.

   Providing a brief overview of the policy, the Director of the HIV and AIDS at the Workplace Division of the Ministry of Labor, Emma Lawson Benson, said prior to the civil war the Ministry of Labor ran a Family Welfare Program for plantation workers, but when the issue of HIV and AIDS came about the ministry established the HIV and AIDS Workplace Division.

   She said in 2008 the division developed the first HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy, which elapsed in 2013, with the hope of being reviewed after every five years as a means of meeting current realities.

   “So, since 2013 we have been fighting to revise this policy, and with the help of the ILO we were able to achieve this,” Benson noted. She said the awareness exercise is also intended to ensure that labor commissioners and inspectors in the counties are provided the education so that they can include awareness on the policy during inspection of workplaces. “Let them include health and non-discrimination issues when inspecting workplaces,” she added. She encouraged them to take at least five minutes to provide education on the policy when carrying out inspection at a workplace.

   Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Labor, Jonathan K. David said the Minister of Labor, Cllr. Charles H. Gibson, wholeheartedly welcomed all participants to the important program and wished to express his thanks to all for coming.

   He said that Minister Gibson takes the revised workplace policy very seriously, and that any matter coming out of the policy will be seriously dealt with. He said the Ministry of Labor’s concerns have been drawn to reports that some hotels are forcing their workers to take their HIV and AIDS test before getting employment, noting that the ministry will look in this matter urgently.

   For his part, the Consultant and Facilitator of the dissemination and awareness-raising campaign on the Revised HIV and AIDS Workplace Policy, David Kirlee Swen, underscored the need for HIV and AIDS matters to be highlighted in concession agreements and collective bargaining agreements between employers and workers in the workplace. 

   Four hundred (400) copies of the newly developed policy were disseminated to workers and managements as well as to labor commissioners, inspectors and civil society organizations in the four counties. It runs from the June 10—17, 2022.

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