Liberia: Decent Work Bill Passed, Minimum Wage Set at $6/Day

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Downtown Monrovia

MONROVIA: The plenary of the Liberian Senate on Tuesday, September 10, 2013 overwhelmingly endorsed the joint Conference Committee report of both Houses to pass into law the controversial Decent Work Bill of 2010.

Plenary is the highest decision making body of the Liberian Senate. The senators took the decision during the 59th day sitting of the second session. Amongst other things, the Decent Work Bill sets US$0.75 cent per hour and US$6 per day for unskilled laborers.

It can be recalled that the Senate sometimes ago, passed the Decent Work Bill, and set a minimum wage of US$6 per day, but was rejected by the House of Representatives.

The House had previously passed the Bill without setting a minimum wage for unskilled laborers. The rejection by the lower House led to the formation of the Joint Conference Committee comprising of members from both Houses of the Liberian Legislature relevant committees including Labor and Judiciary.

Introduced in the 52ndLegislature by former Senators Nathaniel Innis, and Roland Kaine, of Grand Bassa and Margibi Counties in 2010, the Decent Work Bill had suffered series of setback including disagreements and arguments over a minimum wage legislation.

The Senators’ decision to pass the bill during last Tuesday’s sitting stemmed from a report submitted from the Conference Committee to Plenary.

In the report, the Committee said the wages of unskilled laborers must be increased in order to “enhance the improvement of the welfare of Liberian workers, taking into account the economic reality.

The Committee stated in its report that the threshold set up for minimum wage will also help improve the welfare of “vulnerable workers.”

The joint Committee report pointed out that the new wage will help reduce poverty and promote the income of low wage earners. The Committee recommended that the new threshold setup takes effect six months after the passage of the Bill into law.

It cited the expansion of mining, the emergence of new businesses and the high economic growth in Liberia as justifications for the increment in the wage of unskilled laborers.

The committee, among other things, added that the previous minimum wage of US$0.80 cent per day was “unrealistic.”

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By Obediah Johnson