Protesting staffers at the House of Representatives Thursday besieged the office of Speaker Bhofal Chambers, demanding component of the Liberian dollar salaries that were allegedly deducted over a period of 17 months.
The aggrieved staffers claimed the leadership of the House of Representatives cut their salaries for the past one year and five months without providing them any reason.
They converged in the corridor of the Speaker Chambers’ Office and demanded that he come out to speak to them, but the Speaker did not respond.
Last year, the Minister of Finance Samuel Tweah told government employees across Liberia that change in their pay structure came as a result of a salary harmonization program instituted by government to bring workers of the same job category and education on par.
Minister Tweah said the exercise affected all three branches of the government namely; the Legislature, Executive and the Judiciary with employees at the lowest echelon highly affected.
However, after several minutes of fruitless effort Thursday, Sinoe County District # 3 Representative Matthew Zarzar and Bong County District#3 Representative J. Marvin Cole pleaded with the aggrieved staffers to leave the Speaker’s Office, promising that they (Lawmakers) were going to discuss their plight in session.
Similarly, the leadership of the Liberian Senate headed by Senate President Pro-Tempore Albert Chie and aggrieved Senate staffers reached a compromise at the Capitol to pay 16 months’ Liberian dollar salary arrears owed them in three installments.
They reached the agreement Wednesday, January 20, following a protracted meeting in the William Richard Tolbert Joint Chambers of the Liberian Legislature, where both aggrieved workers and Senate leadership debated, argued and later arrived at the terms of payment.
The leadership was represented by Pro-Tempore Chie, Senators Milton Teahjay of Sinoe County; Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence, Grand Bassa County; Prince Moye of Bong County; Emmanuel James Nuquay of Margibi and Saah Joseph of Montserrado County, respectively. The aggrieved staffers were represented by spokesman Charles Brown.
They have been demanding 16 months’ arrears, which according to them, have accumulated to over 1 million Liberian dollars, threatening to protest if the senate failed to pay the amount.
At the Judiciary late last year, aggrieved staffers protested for the same purpose, which led protest leader Archie Ponpon setting himself ablaze before the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.
Ponpon suffered deep burnt on his face and hands, and has been receiving medication at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Sinkor, Monrovia.
By Bridgett Milton –Editing by Jonathan Browne