Exploitation Discovered at the Capitol
...As several lawmakers slash office staffers’ benefits
By: C. Winnie Saywah
Posted July 3, 2004
Following several weeks of arguments between aggrieved employees on one hand and their bosses on the other at the Capitol, some assemblymen have been found to be engaged in slashing the just wages of their employees.
Honorable lawmakers observed to be involved in such act of cleverly tricking their personal staff of their legitimate earnings by reducing their full monthly allowances include NTLA rules and order committee chairman, Rep. Edward M. Kpulun; Rep. Mariam Jalabah; Rep. J. Tarty Tipayson; Rep. Bangalee Sirleaf; and NTLA standing committee chairman on Youth and Sports, Rep. Buster Verdier.
According to the findings of a special ad-hoc committee set up by plenary a month ago, to probe into allegations by some aggrieved employees at the Capitol, improprieties carried out by the above-named legislators against their staffers ranged from reduction in gas coupons and arbitrary reduction of allowances.
In the committee’s report which was read in plenary yesterday, it received complaints from some aggrieved employees to the effect that their bosses have gone to the extent of setting up their own allowances structure.
The employees had also complained, according to the NTLA ad-hoc committee, that though some increments were said to have been made during the two separate fiscal budgets passed by the NTLA, to date, they as personal and central staffers have not benefitted in no way.
The ad-hoc committee’s findings noted several manipulations by the concerned lawmakers that could cast doubts on the integrity of the NTLA, and equally made some stern clarifications.
The committee observed that though there exist some mal-practices on the part of the assembly men named, it did clarify that the NTLA’s finance department has never mismanaged nor consumed the amount of US$42,308 as was alleged by the aggrieved employees.
The committee further observed that there has been a break in communication between the assembly members and the staffers which has led to mere speculations and allegations being levied against the entire assembly in terms of the whole issue.
Meanwhile, in the 10-count recommendations put forth to plenary by the committee, it mandated that the body should endorse and implement that all personal staff together with the central administration staff sign for and receive in person their allowances as of the coming disbursement which is for the month of June.
The committee also recommended that the assembly’s full plenary should mandate and ensure that the assemblymen in question be made to make full restitution of the just salaries and allowances of their respective staffers, and be warned not to repeat such ugly acts which tend to cast aspersion on all the members of the NTLA.
In conclusion, among many other issues noted in the committee’s recommendations, it requested the plenary to protect the interests of those employees who stand the risks of being wrongfully dismissed by their bosses who have been found in the ugly acts. But the committee also cautioned the staffers to confirm and affirm their information as regards the assembly before disseminating it for the smooth and united operation of the entire legislature.
Plenary however, received and thanked the committee for their speedy and perfect report and turned the document to the House’s leadership headed by Speaker George Dweh for possible implementation.