President Pro Tempore of the Senate yesterday orally informed Senate plenary that progress has been made concerning the issue of dismissed employees of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and that the matter will soon be conclusively disposed of.
“During our next Leadership meeting, this matter is going to be conclusively disposed of,” Pro Temp Arnah Zolu Jallah told his colleagues during the Senate’s 25th day sitting.
Senator Jallah told his colleagues that the leadership recently invited the GAC and discussions took place that involved one of two categories of the dismissed employees.
One group of the dismissed employees, according to Pro Temp Jallah, has taken legal action against the GAC, placing their fate beyond the jurisdiction of the Senate, while the other group is claiming benefits, but which process was not done in accordance with the norm required by law.
The Senate Leadership’s pending decision is a result of a report by an ad hoc committee constituted by Senate plenary in 2013 under the leadership of former Pro Tempore Gbehzohngar Findley, and headed by Grand Bassa County Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, to look into the matter concerning the dismissal of 39 employees by then Auditor General Robert Kilby.
Mr. Kilby justified the dismissal action before the Senate plenary, saying it was necessitated by budgetary constraints.
However, the 2013 Karnga-Lawrence-headed Ad Hoc Committee in its report to plenary, said the GAC failed to follow both the Labor Laws of Liberia and the Commission’s own rules and handbook by retrenching the 39 employees.
The committee in that report noted that justification of budgetary constraints given by the GAC for retrenching the employees was far from the truth, as salary budgeted for employees of the commission in the 2011/2012 national budget amounted to US$3,869,205.00, while the commission benefitted from an increased salary of US$4,715,625.00; which shows an increment of US$846, 220. 00, and represents about 22%. “Therefore, the dismissal of the employees was not due to budgetary constraints; it was a wrongful dismissal.”
In its investigation, the committee discovered that though the GAC under AG Kilby was dismissing employees under the guise of budgetary constraints, it was concommitantly employing 74 additional persons sharing the positions and creating new departments which the commission then considered as a restructuring exercise.
The committee then, among other things, recommended to the plenary that the GAC makes one month payment in lieu of the notice to all retrenched employees in keeping with Section 1508: Sub-Sections 3&4 of the Labor Law; that the GAC employee who worked for 13 years, but was paid for three months be paid the balance 10 months.
Further, the committee recommended that retrenched employees who worked for more than five months into the year before their dismissals be paid for additional one month each; and that the Senate should follow this report up with the Ministry of Labor for further action, including but not limited to possible re-employment of those dismissed, in accordance with the aspect of the Labor Law that deals with wrongful dismissal.