Liberia Revenue Authority Employees Threaten Court Action over Salary Harmonization
MONROVIA – Revenue collection for the government is likely to come to a standstill as workers of the Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) have expressed their disenchantment over massive deduction of their salaries as part of the government’s ongoing salary harmonization scheme.
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
In a petition to the management of LRA, the aggrieved 350 employees threatened legal redress if the deductions are not halted, which they have deemed illegal and a breach of their employment contracts.
“Salary harmonization must be without deduction. In our case, it will be compulsory salary deductions/cuts. We state further that salary is a matter of law, and not policy or at the discretion of any single party to the employment contract,” the staff stated in the petition.
The wage harmonization program, according to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), entails fitting all government workers into a pay grade with seven steps. The grade covers all employees of government based on the Civil Service Agency.
According to the MFDP, the harmonization program abolished the basic and general allowance salary structures of the previous years, giving all government workers one pay. Where workers were previously paid with wide discrepancies, all workers under the harmonized bill will now be paid more equitably, with people of the same qualification and experience making about the same amount or in the same range.
However, the aggrieved LRA workers in their petition stated that they have rejected and refused the proposal in its entirety because it is in gross violation of their employment contract, the Decent Work Act, LRA Act of 2013, LRA Human Resource Management Policy (HRMP) and other applicable laws.
The workers contended that the LRA has established its employment and remuneration policies through the LRA Human Resource Management Policy (HRMP), consistent with the LRA Act and Labor Laws of Liberia, where the Act permits the LRA to set salary structure of its employees.
They noted that over 75 percent of LRA employees are currently financing loans with commercial Banks or the LRA LPA Credit Scheme, and owing to this, the pending salary deductions will be an additional burden detrimental to employees and will demotivate the staff.
In addition, the workers claimed that other incentives including the LRA staff’s education allowance, transportation allowance, fuel, scratch cards, group life and medical under the LRA insurance scheme, and the employer’s provident fund matching contribution have been halted almost two years ago.
They are also calling for the reimbursement of their previous salaries that were deducted, excluding Personal Income Tax and social security contributions.
They have planned to seek legal redress through a court of competent jurisdiction and other legal nonviolent alternatives to ensure that their salaries are restored.
Meanwhile, the Acting Communications Manager of the LRA told FrontPageAfrica that management understands the concerns of the staff but the LRA is under obligation to implement government’s policies and the harmonization is of no exception.
“The LRA understands the concern of its staff but is under obligation to implement by government policies like the salary harmonization,” said Victor Seah.
The government claims the measure is backed by the government’s partners including the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Finance Minister Samuel Tweah’s admittance that the government has begun implementing the measure and the salaries of 9,000 overpaid civil servants were cut, the government has come under criticisms.
Several lawmakers have criticized the salary harmonization scheme.
Controversial Deputy Information Minister Eugene Fahngon has also termed the scheme as untimely.
According to Fahngon, the government of President George Weah must give ample time to people specifically civil servants whose salaries are being cut.