By Alva M. Wolokollie
One of the much talked about bills, Decent Work Bill has been finally adopted by the 53rd Legislature with a minimum threshold of 75 cent per hour or US$6.00 per day. This means that unskilled laborers will earn US$186.00 monthly. It may be recalled that the Senate passed the decent work bill in July 2013, with a condition that there will be a conference committee between the Senate and the House of Representatives to agreed changes made by the Senate. The House of Representatives was the first to pass the instrument without setting a wage.
The two Houses conference committee have been working on the bill to reach a common understanding as to how they would set a minimum threshold for unskilled workers.
At yesterday 59th day sitting, the Senate overwhelmingly passed the bill with a yea and nay vote. Senate Pro-tempore, Gbezongar Milton Findley of Grand Bassa County presided over the adoption of the passage. The motion to adopt the bill was made by Sinoe County Senator Mobutu V. Nyenpan.
This passage indicates that both Houses have agreed on all amendments or changes made during the previous debate of the bill. For example, there was an issue in the bill that skilled or professionals reach an agreement with government or private institutions on salaries and benefits based on qualifications. There was also confusion over the exact amount to be legislated. Because of these slight changes in the bill, the Senate at that time proposed a conference committee which brought together members of both Houses to agree on the changes.
Earlier, the House of Representatives in its 61st day sitting passed the Decent Work Bill, which was submitted in 2010. The decision of the House Plenary at the time followed a recommendation by the Joint Committee on Labor and Judiciary.
According to the Joint Committee’s recommendation at the time, the numerical dollar value for Minimum Wage of every class of employees must be determined by the National Minimum Wage Board.
Section 501 of the Liberian Labor Law mandates the National Minimum Wage Board to review wages paid to employees for possible adjustment in order to respond to changing times and economic conditions in the labor sector of the country.
The bill was sent back to committee room following intense debates in Plenary on the minimum wage set at $5.60 per day for employees as previously recommended by the Joint Committee on Labor and Judiciary.
According to the Senate, the US$5.60 per day was not within the bill, as passed by the lower House. The passage of the bill brings relief to the labor sector here and seems to guarantee job security for employees at workplaces.