Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a bid to address concerns and provide clarity, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee investigating the recent staff layoffs, Honourable Solomon Sengepoh Thomas, has confirmed that the Parliamentary Service Commission approved the layoff of 82 staff members, contrary to the widely circulated claim of 137 on social media.
During the proposed headcount of all Parliamentary staff on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, at the Parliamentary forecourt, Hon. Thomas assured the public that the Committee had cross-verified the figure with the Clerk of Parliament to ensure accuracy.
As the headcount process commenced on January 17, 2024, and is expected to conclude on January 19, 2024, Hon. Thomas, who also serves as the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, emphasized the seriousness of the matter. He instructed Heads of Departments to submit comprehensive lists of staff under their supervision directly to him by the close of business on Thursday, January 18, 2023. The Committee aims to compare these lists with other documents in its possession.
Addressing the absence of the Substantive Chairman and Secretary of the Commission (the Speaker and the Clerk of Parliament) during the hearing, the Acting Chairman clarified that he was appointed to chair the meeting in the Speaker’s absence.
Hon. Thomas assured the public that the issue of the 82 staff layoffs would be thoroughly investigated, and the findings would be communicated accordingly.
To streamline the headcount process, Hon. Thomas urged the 82 affected staff members, who received letters, to be present in Parliament on Friday, January 19, 2024, at 10 in the morning. This step is intended to prevent overcrowding and ensure transparency in the headcount according to their respective departments.
Noting the importance of accountability, Hon. Dickson Rogers requested staff on leave or sick leave to present their letters to their Heads of Department for inclusion in the headcount. However, the Leader of Government Business, Hon. Sahr Mathew Nyuma, emphasized the need for professional handling of sick leave based on verification.
The Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Abdul Karabo, clarified their stance, expressing support for the principle of staff redundancy but stressing the importance of fairness. He urged that those not reporting for work but still on the payroll be considered for redundancy, while those actively working without convincing reasons should not be affected.
In the interest of a transparent investigation, Hon. Karabo suggested that the Clerk of Parliament, Hon. Umarr Paran Tarawally, step aside temporarily, and resume duties if found innocent at the conclusion of the investigation. AMK/18/1/2024