9 April 2014

Liberian Lawmakers Pass Decent Work Bill Into Law

Monrovia — After several years of lingering into committee rooms at the National Legislature Liberian Lawmakers have finally passed into law Decent Work Bill setting the threshold at US$6 and US$4 per day at minimum wage for workers.

The House of Representatives on Tuesday voted for the passage of the bill as a result of a meeting held by the Conference Committee of both houses where it was agreed that the amount be set as minimum wage for skilled and domestic workers.

Presenting the report to plenary on behalf of the Committees on Labor and Judiciary, Representative Christian Chea, (UP-District #2 River Gee County) said, the joint Conference Committee agreed that Domestic workers, which include Housemaids, receive US$4 a day and others who are skilled receive $US6 per day.

Rep. Chea said: "Mr. Speaker and colleagues of the National Legislature with the consent of others on the conference committee and with the history we have made in passing the code of conduct and other bills and being cognizant of the demand by the Country's workforce for increment in salary as the cost of living is getting harder on a daily basis we feel that prosperity will sing a song of our praise if we pass this long awaited decent work bill. In this regards, I appeal to my colleagues to consider the passage of this bill."

At the end of Chea's committee report, it was opened for discussion among Lawmakers. During the discussion several Lawmakers, including Representative Bhofal Chambers (CDC-District#2 Maryland County) supported the passage of the bill on grounds that it will bring back dignity to workers of Liberia while others supported the passage but opposed the setting of a minimum wage.

Making remarks, Representative Chambers alleged that despite the gross austerity architectural being designed by people who he claimed are managing the monetary side of the country's economy there is a need to equilibrate the issue.

Chambers said: "It could be prudent if indeed we concur with our colleagues knowing the totality of our circumstances because if we are to accept anything other than what has come out of the committee could result into an economic chaos. I believe that we have reached a point where there should be a compromise between reality and wherever we are thinking."

Unlike Representative Chambers, Representative Eugene Fallah Kpakar (LP-District#1 Lofa County) argued that despite the committee's finding there is a need to leave the issue of Minimum wage with the Minimum Wage Board.

Representative Kpakar argued that the minimum wage is being set in the absence of what he called the economic analysis of the country. "Do we have statistics of the GDP of the country for which we are making this decision on the minimum wage of 4 and 6 dollars? That is the reason why plenary decided that there should be a minimum wage board to make the determination, he said."

The Lofa County Lawmaker said he maintains his position on the issue and promised not to vote for any of the stipulated figure recommended by the conference committee. For his part Representative Edwin Snowe (IND-District#6 Montserrado County) called for the de-politicization of the Minimum wage issue.

"We should not politicize the wellbeing of our people, we have legislated a minimum wage board, if you read the report from the committee it is requesting that the legislature legislate a minimum wage to be reviewed by the minimum wage board two years after which is total contradiction," Snowe said.

After several minutes of discussions plenary took a vote where 28 Lawmakers present voted in favor of the passage of the bill two were against and none abstaining from the process.

After the vote Representative Edwin Snowe took the advantage of the slightest error by the motion which did not include calling for the immediate trial of any motion for reconsideration to file a motion for reconsideration to be tried after their Easter break.

As per the rules governing the National Legislature any member of the Legislature has the right to file a motion for reconsideration on any issues he or she feels disenchanted about. Meanwhile the House of Representatives has taken their two week Easter break.

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