The plenary of the Liberian Senate has summoned authorities at APM Terminals, ordering their appearance before that august body this Friday, 9 October to give reasons why they shouldn’t be held in contempt.
The plenary to the decision unanimously due to APM Terminals’ alleged show of disrespect to the Senate Committee on Labor. The motion to summon APM Terminals was made by Montserrado County Senator Saah Joseph.
Senator Joseph’s motion followed a concern raised by Senator J. Gbleh-bo Brown of Maryland County, urging that the plenary should reject the committee’s report because it had been disrespected by APM Terminals.
Senator Brown had expressed disappointment in the committee for submitting a report that recommended that a case with the Dock Workers Union of the APM Terminals be forwarded to the Labor Ministry when the same Labor Ministry has failed in its function.
According to the report by the Labor Committee Chaired by River Gee Senator Matthew Jay, during the hearing with the workers union and the APM Terminals which was represented by its lawyers, there was documentary evidence by the workers union to substantiate their claims.
However the report indicates that the APM Terminals’ lawyers refused to address the Senate’s Labor Committee on grounds that the complaint shouldn’t have been carried to the Senate, but to the Labor Ministry. But Senator Brown says the Senate has outsight responsibility and a law firm has no right to tell Senators what to do.
“It is a complete disrespect to this body for those lawyers to tell us what case should be brought to us or not. The workers have been to the Labor Ministry but there has been no result. They came to us for redress and we are representing the people, we cannot send them back to the same Labor Ministry,” Senator Brown says.
Montserrado County Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, also speaking on the matter suggests that the Senate should summon the Labor Ministry so that it can tell the Senate plenary why it is not enforcing its own Labor law at the APM Terminals. He wonders why the Ministry is not enforcing the law while peaceful citizens and workers at APM Terminals are suffering.
The meeting with the Dock Workers Union and APM Terminals’ lawyers ended in a deadlock, as the company’s lawyers refused to cooperate with the Senate’s Labor Committee. The meeting was called due to a communication from Senator Abraham Darius Dillon, seeking a probe into the situation between APM Terminals and its workers.
Dillon added that for the past two weeks, the workers had been on go-slow, saying that there had been an amendment to a law preventing them from having some entitlement that they enjoyed before, one of which is medical benefit, among others.
By Ethel A. Tweh–Edited by Winston W. Parley