MONROVIA, Montserrado – Staffers at the National Legislature are threatening to barricade all entrances of the Capitol Building if lawmakers do not ensure that salaries they are owed are paid in three days.
The legislative staffers say they have only been receiving the U.S. dollars component of their salaries since July 2019 – the Liberian dollar component has not been forthcoming.
Addressing reporters at the Capitol Building, the acting chair of the aggrieved workers, Charles Brown, said lawmakers would be blocked from entering the facility if staffers’ concerns are not addressed.
“I wonder why lawmakers will ignore the concerns of ordinary staffers who market them on a daily basis – this is a weakness to us as Liberians,” said Brown, who works within the Senate Press Bureau.
“It is very shameful on the part of this government we voted to cut staffers’ legitimate salaries instead of increasing it. I think it was better they leave our salaries like that rather than cutting it.”
He called on the chairpersons of the Ways, Means, and Finance Committees of both houses, Rep. Thomas Fallah and Sen. Morris Saytumah, to intervene to ensure that the alleged salary cuts are refunded.
“Anything other than this, we can assure you that none of them will enter this building, especially the ones that want to be elected senators,” he said, in a reference to Fallah, who is rumored to be the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change’s candidate for Montserrado’s senator in the upcoming Dec. 8 elections.
He also called on the House of Representatives to restore gasoline allotment that was taken away during the recent recasting of the budget. Brown noted that Senate staffers had theirs restored by the Senate leadership even though it was proposed to be taken away.
“All of us are doing the same work so why are they not getting their gas?” he said.
Asked if he feared retaliation from lawmakers for the threat, Brown said his dismissal would be justified if others benefited from the advocacy.
Besides the issue of salaries being delayed, legislative staffers have also been complaining about the state of the vehicles used to transport them to work on a daily basis. Those four buses are in need of repairs and have been parked in the back of the Capitol Building since February.
Featured photo by Zeze Ballah