Decent Work Bill Lingers

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The decision on the minimum wage for both public and private workers in Liberia will be brought to the plenary of the Senate within two weeks.

The Senate plenary on Tuesday April 28, voted to accept a request from its conference committee, currently meeting with colleagues at the Lower House, for a two week extension of its mandate to reconcile between two rates voted on as a threshold for the minimum wage.

The conference committee’s renewed two week extended mandate was prompted by a request from Nimba County ranking Senator Prince Johnson for an update on the status of the lagging Decent Work Bill.

In her verbal report to the Senate Tuesday, the current chair of the Committee, Grand Bassa County   Senator Nyonblee Karnga-Lawrence, informed the body that the two Conference Committees have held three separate meetings, and that a breakthrough will soon be announced to the plenary.

But some members of the Senate, including Margibi County Senator Oscar Cooper, who vehemently promotes the passage of the Bill, argued that it was taking too long for the committees to come out with a decision on the minimum wage amount.

The Decent Work Bill, which originated from the House of Representatives, was passed by that body during the 52nd Legislature without a threshold as a minimum wage and was sent to the Senate for concurrence.

It was at the Senate that a threshold of US$6.00 a day was voted on as a minimum wage and sent back to the House of Representatives.

But on March 18, 2014, after weeks of no reaction from the House of Representatives over the Senate’s threshold, the Secretary of the Senate was mandated to write the House for an update on the status of the Bill for concurrent passage.

Amid speculations that the House was contemplating on delegating the responsibility to determine the minimum wage to the minimum wage board of the Ministry of Labor, River Gee Senator Frederick Cherue warned:  “If we don’t harmonize whatever differences there are, the Decent Work Bill will continue to go in circles until thy kingdom come.”

However, the House later informed the Senate that it had agreed on the amount of US$7.20 a day as a minimum wage, and needed its concurrence.

It was at this juncture that the two houses again mandated their conference committees to work on an amicable resolution between the two figures, and reconcile any other sticky issues pertaining to the smooth passage of the Bill.

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