Liberia: Unprecedented Dismissal – Senate AD Hoc Committee Describes Kilby’s GAC Firings

The Ad Hoc committee set up by the Senate to investigate the dismissal saga of 39 employees of the General Auditing Commission (GAC) by former Auditor General(AG) Robert Kilby has presented its findings and recommendations to plenary.

The committee headed by Senator Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence (LP-Grand Bassa County) described the action by former AG as unprecedented and that the GAC instituted a dismissal action.

The issue was Karngar’s first assignment given her by plenary of the Liberian senate and was turned over to her as a result of the failure by the former chair on the committee senator Isaac Nyenabo (NDPL-Grand Gedeh County) to produce results after 9 months.

The committee’s findings amongst several things said the action by former AG Kilby to dismiss the 39 employees was not a result of budgetary constraints as claimed by the former AG.

The Ad Hoc Committee disclosed that the approved salary budget 2011/2012, 2012/2013 and the draft 2013/14 shows that there was no budgetary constraints for salaries.

“In fact, the 2012/2013 budget increased based on a proposed 20% increment for employees across the board. The table shows an increment of $846,220.00 in the salary budget. Therefore the dismissal of the employees was not due to budgetary constraints. It was wrongful dismissal, the committee said.”

The committee also disclosed that during its investigation it was discovered that the committee in 2012 dismissed 39 employees and employed 74 additional employees filling the same positions and creating new departments, which the committee considers as a restructuring exercise.

The Ad Hoc committee also claimed in its findings that the dismissed employees were not given one month notice for dismissal according to both the Labor law of Liberia and the GAC’s Human resource rules and that the employees were not paid for one month in lieu of notice.

Said the committee through its chair: “the Human resource Department of the GAC did not follow the ‘Last in first out’ (LIFO) administrative rule; almost all of the employees affected had a subordinate that was employed at the GAC after their employment.”

The committee pointed out a particular case where one employee worked for thirteen (13) years and was paid for three months as severance instead of thirteen (13) months.

“The committee did an entire restructuring exercise instead of severance. The exercise accommodated seventy (70) additional employees and added more departments. “

“In this case, there was no need for severance. Considering the function of the GAC, the GAC is over staffed and functions are duplicated with the total numbers of staffs as of today is four hundred and sixty four (464), the committee added.”

As a result of the committee’s findings it recommended to plenary 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 Labor law.

The law states that where the contract is concluded between the employer and the employee for an indefinite period, the employer shall have the right to dismiss the employee on condition that he gives him two weeks written notice in the case of no-salaried employee and four weeks written notice in the case of salaried employee or payment in lieu of each notice.

The committee also recommended that the GAC employee who worked for thirteen (13) years and was paid for three months during the retrenchment exercise, he/she should be paid the balance ten months, that the GAC submit a report to the senate through the committee to justify why 40 employees were retrenched and concomitantly; the employment of 70 employees, some in the same positions, and the creation of more departments.

The committee further recommended that all employees who worked for more than five months into the year before their dismissal should be paid for additional one month each and that the senate should forward the committee’s report to the Ministry of Labor for further actions including but not limited to possible re-employment in keeping with section 9 of the labor laws of Liberia.

“Where wrongful dismissal is alleged, the Labor court shall have power to order reinstatement, but may order payment of reasonable compensation to the aggrieved employment in lieu of reinstatement,” the committee chair added.”

The report after it was read by the secretary by the Senate was tabled for Thursday of this week because according to several senators they have not been given copy of the report and they could not participate in discussion surround the report in the absents of not knowing what is in the report.

Member of the committee include; Nyonblee Karnga Lawrence chairperson, (LP-Grand Bassa County), J. Jonathan Banney member (UP-Rivercess County) and J.S.B Theodore Momo member (UP-Gbapolu County).