The Senate Special Committee probing the dismissal of 39 staff of the General Auditing Commission has recommended to plenary that those dismissed should be reinstated through the Ministry of Labour in line with Chapter One, Section Nine of the Labour Law of Liberia.
The section reads; “Where wrongful dismissal is alleged, the Labour Court shall have the power to order reinstatement, but may order payment of reasonable compensation to the aggrieved employee in lieu of reinstatement. The party against whom the order is made shall have the right of election to reinstate or pay such compensation.”
On 23 October 2012, the GAC severed the services of 39 employees, citing economic situation and its accompanying budgetary constraints. The action led to a serious public outcry which drew the attention of the Liberian Legislature, coupled with a written complaint to the Capitol by the dismissed employees.
The committee through its Chairperson, Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence in a verbal report at Tuesday’s regular sitting of the Senate said that after 21 days of intense investigation, it established that the action of the GAC is unprecedented and that the GAC instituted a dismissal action rather than a severed.
“Our investigation acknowledges the following as findings why the dismissal of 39 employees from the GAC could have been due to budgetary constraints. The approved salary budget of 2011/12 is US$3,869,405, while the fiscal year salary approved is US$4,715,625 and the fiscal approved salary is US$4,674,840. Which means there has being increment of 20 percent in salary allotment”, she said.
According to the report, the GAC dismissed 39 employees in 2012 and in 2013 employed 74 additional employees, filling the same positions and recreating new departments which the committee considered as restructuring exercise.
The report further stated that the GAC is overstaffed and functions are being duplicated, adding “The total number of staff currently as of June 2013 is 464 employees. The GAC built the capacity of the affected employees and did nothing to utilize their skills acquired at the expense of taxpayers’ money; instead, it employed new people, who are to be trained again for the same position.”
The committee also recommended that the GAC should make one month payment in lieu of notice to all retrenched employees in keeping with section 1508, sub-section 3 and 4 of the Labour law.
It said the Commission should submit a report to the Senate through the committee to justify why 39 employees were retrenched; concomitantly and the employment of 74 employees, some in the same positions, and the creation of more departments.
Meanwhile, the plenary of the Senate through votes has deferred the report to tomorrow, Thursday for debate and appropriate action. The decision of the deferment is to allow the committee time to circulate the report prior to Thursday’s sitting.