By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
After several hours of debate on the Decent Work Bill that has been languishing in the Capitol Building for several years, Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hans Barchue on yesterday, May 1, 2014, broke a tie over a vote that was taken when a motion of reconsideration was filed in by Rep. Edwin Snowe calling for the minimum wage board to set a threshold for the labor force.
Representative Snowe argued that the House Standing Committee on Labor should collaborate with the Minimum Wage Board at Labor Ministry to set a minimum wage for the labor force instead of passing a law, but cross session of lawmakers resisted and argued that the Legislature should be given said authority to do so.
When the debate started, Margibi County Representative, Emmanuel Nuquay, told his colleagues that Rep. Snowe’s motion and his argument that a threshold should be set a board at Labor Ministry were in “bad faith” and such comment was not in the interest of the Liberian people.
Nuquay explained that the law must be applied without fear or favor and that Rep. Snowe’s motion was self-centered.
He stressed that the Legislature is not ignorant to the plight of the citizenry and that it must make prudent decision that would benefit the nation and its people.
Nuquay who chaired the House Standing Committee on Ways and Means counter-argument was sustained by some lawmakers including George Mulbah of Bong, Christian Chea of River Gee and Acarious Gray of Montserrado Counties stressing that the House is made of professionals and must not be reduced to Snowe’s assertion.
He cited India, Sri-Lanka and Pakistan as countries that have set a minimum wage, noting that Liberia was not an exception to said global principle.
However, Representative Edward Karfia of Bong County District #5 filed a motion to conduct the democratic principle voting and it was conducted twice with a tie-ballot with 16 for and 16 against.
Deputy Speaker Barchue who presided over the session was left with the decision to invoke 16.2 of the House Standing Rule which stressed that in the case of tie vote, the presiding should decide the final vote.
Deputy Speaker Barchue indicated that his decision to break the tie was aimed at putting the interest of the Liberian people first.
With the passage of this bill, it means that the House has concurred with the Liberian Senate with US$6 for skill workers and US$4 for unskilled workers.