MONROVIA: In demand for their benefits for a Special Session that recalled the legislators from their regular constituency break, staffers at the Capitol Building on Wednesday, August 23, prevented Senators from entering the grounds of the National Legislature. The Capitol Building staffers effectively disrupted the reconvening of the National Legislature, saying that it is unacceptable to be told that they have been called from their break to work without pay.
As a result of a statement made by the Senate President Protemp, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Tugbeh Chie that they will not receive extra remuneration from the National Treasury, the Capitol Building workers were incensed to the extent that they immediately embarked on a protest action which disrupted legislative session on August 23.
In their disagreement, the legislative staff besieged the entire Capitol Building Grounds, agitating that there would be no special session held from their break in as much as they will not be paid for the time they have been called to work.
The Capitol Building workers were seen turning back vehicles of their bosses, the Senators, stating that it is impossible for President Weah to issue a proclamation calling Senators back from break without providing the usual pay for everyone.
“No benefit, no session,” some of them chanted as they went about preventing senator’s vehicles from parking at the Capitol Building.
“Without benefit for the staffers who do the work, y’all go back,” a fellow in a fair colored shirt, dark shades and a dark pair of trousers emotionally remarked, saying the President cannot call the Legislature back from break on the basis of unsettled issues without ensuring payment for such purpose.
“They will go back! You cannot tell me that the lawmakers are coming to sit here free; the proclamation [by the President] was on the basis of issues,” he further remarked as he led his colleagues to turn back a land cruiser Toyota jeep of one of the legislators, Senator Wellington Geevon Smith, who politely turned his vehicle around and drove out of the Capitol Building Grounds.
“We will continue this action until we get a redress. No lawmaker is coming to sit here free. What about the staffers who are going to serve you? The staffers who are going to attend the offices, to bring water to flush your bathrooms?” he complained.
“No Senator’s car coming inside’ I am the ground commander; only staffers’ cars will come in. How you said you call yourself back – that’s a criminal act;” he said, specifically pointing accusing fingers at opposition lawmakers who the ringleader said should have known better.
Other legislative staffers who commented at random expressed similar surprise at key opposition lawmakers who they said were in cahoots with the CDC lawmakers to deny them their benefits. They mentioned Senator Nyonblee Karngar-Lawrence, a female lawmaker who they said should have been there for them, noting that Senator Darius Dillon who claimed to be the light sat there and allowed the legislative staffers denied their benefit.
Recently, President George Manneh Weah recalled the Senate to Session from their Constituency break to attend to matters of national importance. Accordingly, an opening session of the Senate took place on August 22, 2023 at the Capitol Building where the Senate leadership informed the public that because the Senate recalled itself from break, there would be no extra remunerations for the Senate from the National Treasury.
Thanking his colleagues for cutting short their constituency visit to return to the Capitol to attend these matters, the Senate President Protemp said “…Since this call is at the behest of members of the Legislature, we will not receive extra remuneration from the national treasury.”
He mentioned on August 22, 2023 at the opening of the Special Session that the Senate was being convened to consider time-bound matters of national interest in line with Article 32(b) of the 1986 Constitution.
Article 32(b) of the 1986 Constitution states “The President on his own initiative or upon receipt of a certificate signed by at least one-fourth of the total membership of each House, and by proclamation, extend the regular session of the National Legislature beyond the date for adjournment or call a special extraordinary session of the body to discuss or act upon matters of
national emergency or concern…:”