Decent Work Bill Dangles

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The Decent Work Bill is arguably becoming the most controversial Bill within the Chambers of the 53rd Legislature.

In terms of duration in the House, it is only second to the Code of Conduct, which goes as far back as 2009 with the Decent Work Bill being introduced in 2010.

Besides suffering several setbacks either by the makings of the various committees mandated to scrutinize it and advice the two Houses on what decisions to take, or the Plenary of the two Houses differing discussions, the fate of the Bill is still dangling on an unbalanced political sword waiting for another conference committee to decide on a final resting place.

Tuesday, May 6, the Senate received a communication from the House of Representatives, informing that body that it has endorsed the recommendations of the conference committee on Decent Work Bill 2010 to set a minimum wage.

“By directive, the Honorable House of Representatives in session have mandated me to inform the Honorable House of Senate that it has endorsed the recommendation of the conference committee on Decent Work Bill 2010 to set a minimum wage bill articulated in the attached addendum. The Bill was deliberated and passed into the full force of the law on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at the hour 1449 GMT during its regular session…”

According to communication from the House of Representatives under the signature of Chief Clerk Mildred Sayon, the addendum to the minimum wage as passed by the House of Representatives and Senate Conference Committee, the minimum wage for skilled professional employee was put at US$0.75 hour, amounting to US$6 per day and US$156 a month.

Domestic or unskilled employee minimum wage was agreed at US$0.40 per hour; US$4 per day, and US$104 a month.

The committee said the function and duty of the National Wage Board is to review wages after every two years.

But the Senate’s immediate reaction Tuesday as propounded by Maryland County Senator John Ballout, was that the Senate received firstly the document, discuss it the next session and decide whether there was a need for another conference committee. “I am begging this plenary indulgence that we allow all Senators to receive what has been read; may be it may not necessarily amount for conference committee, but in the event it does, so be it.”

In its final decision, the plenary agreed for another conference committee with the mandate that Senate maintains its original decision as passed on Thursday, September 10, 2013, during the 59th day sitting of the 2nd Session. The Senate at that sitting last year concurred with the joint conference committee of both the Senate and House of Representatives to pass the Decent Work Bill with a minimum wage at US$75 cents an hour and US$6 a day, without amendment.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the Senate after few minutes of consultation Tuesday, set up a six-man committee that includes Senators Joseph Nagbe, Frederick Cherue, Sumo Kupee, Isaac Nyenabo, Geraldine Doe-Sherif and John Ballout; with the spelt out mandate to go to the House of Representatives and negotiate the terms that the Senate passed.

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