Senate Writes House over Decent Work Bill

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The Plenary of the Liberian Senate Tuesday, March 18, mandated the Secretary of that body to write the House of Representatives for an update on the status of the Decent Work Bill, for concurrent passage.

The decision by the Senate at its 18th day sitting was prompted by a report from its Committee on Labor. That committee was included in a conference committee sent to negotiate with the House of Representatives on the threshold of US$6 a day as the minimum wage for workers of every stripe.

The conference committee set up by the two Houses deliberated and agreed that the US$6 per day, as was set by the Senate, remains. A report was then prepared by both Houses; the Senate accepted the report, passed the Bill, and sent it to the House of Representatives for concurrence.

“Up to the time of this report, we are yet to hear from the House, why the Bill has not been passed; or they have not concurred with the Senate. The Chair of the Labor Committee, Matthew Jaye told Plenary “…that is what prompted this report.”

The Bill, which had originated from the House of Representatives, was passed by that body during the 52nd Session—but without a threshold; it had then been sent to the Senate for concurrence.

It was at the Senate that a threshold of US$6 a day was voted on as minimum wage and sent back to its source, the House of Representatives.

“The best thing this plenary can do is to remind the House members that the issue of the Decent Work Bill is a very sensitive and delicate issue and the Senate is awaiting their response,” Grand Cape Mount Senior Senator Abel Momolu Massaley suggested.

For his part, Senator Frederick Cherue suggested that the Committee on Labor be sent back to the members of the conference committee to determine what happened there. “There is a rumor that the House wants the minimum wage to be determined by the minimum wage board. If we don’t harmonize whatever differences there are, the Decent Work Bill will continue to go around in circles until ‘thy kingdom come.’”

Senator Cherue further suggested that the Senate’s conference committee went to the conference committee of the House of Representatives to get an official position from the Plenary there.

The Decent Work Bill and the Code of Conduct remain the longest-languishing Bills before the current Legislature, though the Code of Conduct may soon find its way to the desk of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, for approval.

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