Liberia: Senate Leadership, Staffer Hold Dialogue After Strike Action Over Salary Arrears
MONROVIA – Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chie and other members of the Senate leadership on Wednesday met and had a meeting with staffers of the Liberian Senate on the way forward in settling their 17-month salary.
Senator Chie’s intervention was in response to the staff strike action. Several staff of the Senate laid under the Senator’s vehicle in protest for the restoration of monies cut from their salaries by the Ministry of Finance as part of the government’s salary harmonization process.
They said besieging the Pro-Tempore’s vehicle was their last resort.
The Senate staff continue to accuse the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning of illegally slashing the Liberian dollar component of their salary.
The decision by the Finance Ministry was believed to be part of the Government of Liberia salary harmonization program, but the leadership of the Legislature argued that they took a 32% salary cut so that their staff salary would not be harmonized.
Despite the sacrifice they claimed to have made for their staffer, staffers are claiming that they are experiencing salary cuts with their Liberian dollars components completely removed and are demanding the intervention of their bosses. Bulk of those staffers are from the central administration and personal staffers of lawmakers.
During Wednesday meeting with the staffers, Pro-Tempore Chie, along with other members of the Senate leadership, promised to address the concerns of the staffers in the shortest possible time. He promised that the leadership is considering restoring their Liberian dollars salary component and paying retroactively salary arrears owed them.
Over the past few months, staffers at the Capitol have had series of protests. On July 14, 2020, aggrieved staffers from the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate converged in demand for the restoration of their deducted salaries.
They specifically disclosed that since July 2019, no staff of the Liberian Senate has received Liberian dollar component of his or her salary, something they termed as unusual and unprecedented.
Spokesperson Charles Brown from the Liberian Senate lamented that it is unlawful for lawmakers to cut their [staffers’] legitimate salary unilaterally, arguing that their earnings should have rather been increased or maintained.
He said staffers of both the House of Representatives and the Senate are giving their bosses three days ultimatum to meet with them relative to restoring their salaries or else, none of the lawmakers would be allowed to work in their offices.
Speaking to this paper following their meeting which was marred by tense exchanges and bitterness, Brown said the leadership of the Liberian Senate has reneged in responding to their concerns about salaries.
“Government employees with the Judiciary and Executive branches are receiving their Liberian dollar components, but with us nothing and our leaders are not telling us anything in that regard. We want answers from them or nobody will be allowed in the premises of the Capitol Building, especially the Senate wing of the building,” he threatened.