Liberia: Senate Subjects APM Terminal to Community Service at William V.S Tubman High School for Obstructing Senate Functions

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MONROVIA – APM Terminal Liberia has been charged with contempt by the Liberian Senate and subjected to unspecified community service as punishment at the William V.S Tubman high school in Sinkor, Monrovia.

The Senate made the decision Wednesday during its final session for the 54th Legislature. The Senate’s action is a result of what Plenary called disrespect to the Senate Committee on Labor during a public hearing on complaints filed by some workers of the APM Terminal.

The Liberian Senate invited the APM Terminal for contempt charge based on a complaint filed by the Labor Committee. The Plenary of the Liberian Senate determined that the management of the APM Terminal and its legal team were guilty of obstruction of the function of the Senate and undermining the authority of the august body.

“The Plenary of the Senate has also determined that since this is the first offense of the APM Terminal, it has decided to apply a minimum sanction which is community service at the Williams V.S Tubman High School.

“The leadership will take seize of the matter between the APM Terminal and the workers and decision on the status of the workers will be made certainly next week,” the Pro-Tempore Albert Chie said.

The Senate’s findings indicated that APM Terminals clearly decided to undermine the authority of the Senate plenary.

“The Senate plenary was not part of the discussions that were held in the committee room that brought this confusion, so, we did not have the opportunity to observe people’s behavior, but today we have that opportunity. Plenary believes that the posture of Cllr. Elliott was both rough and belligerent and therefore, we believe it was the same attitude she portrayed in the committee room,” Pro-Tempore Chie stated.

 It can be recalled that the Labor Committee in its report told plenary that the Dock Workers Union complaint was serious and that several efforts were made with the Minister of Labor, but to no avail; that ruling from the hearing officers at the Ministry of Labor was not adhered to by the APM Terminals’ management, and that the collective bargaining agreement between the APM Terminals and the Dock Workers Union has long expired and, as such, the management is operating on a new handbook.

Also, the committee further observed that the APM Terminals was not complying with its own handbook. It stated in the report that lawyers representing the legal interest of APM Terminals either deny nor accept the workers’ claims, but were rather contending that the workers should complain to the Ministry of Labor, instead of the Senate.

But Senators at the hearing argued the mandate from the plenary to look into said matter can only be reported to plenary for subsequent action or decision.

In a rather surprising recommendation, the committee, taking into what it described as the spirit of coordination between the Legislature and Executive, and considering the plight of the Dock Workers Union; “the committee recommended that plenary official informs the Ministry of Labor, through its Minister, to handle this matter in keeping with Sections 36.4, 36.5,36.6 and 36.7 of the Decent Work Act.

However, in the debate that followed, a majority of the Senators were visibly astounded over comments attributed to the legal team of the APM Terminals, especially in dictating what matters can be investigated by the Legislature.

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