The National Health Worker of Liberia (NAHWUL) has declared a “Stay Home Action” as of midnight September 16, 2020 in demand of their benefits to include salary increment in FY 2020/2021; payment of hazard allowance to all health workers; provision of COVID-19 benefits for infected health workers and their deceased families; the immediate cancellation of a policy on redeployment and transfer of health workers; the provision of benefits to the over 1000 pensioners over the last six months, as well as filling the gap created on the workflow by their retirement of the pensioners, among others.
According to the national health workers association in a September 15, 2020 press statement, their action to stay home is due to the unexpected outcome of a September 10, 2020 meeting with the government of Liberia at the Ministerial Complex where NAHWUL members were addressed in a demeaning manner and even threatened by President George M. Weah himself.
Recalling the background of the September 10, 2020 meeting, NAWUL said, on September 2, 2020, the National Health Workers Union of Liberia demanded from the Government of Liberia (GOL) in a press release the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in September of 2019.
“The government responded on the 10th September 2020 by calling for a meeting between itself and the Union, with the President of the Republic of Liberia and nearly half of the cabinet in attendance at the ministerial complex. Our concerns included the granting to NAHWUL a Certificate of Recognition; provision of a clear salary base for each grade that corresponds to the qualification; reclassification of healthcare workers who have over the period upgraded their professional status; suspension of the policy document for Redeployment and Transfer until the Union can have an input; provision of a blueprint on how the almost 1,000 pensioners gap will be filled; provision of benefits to victims and families of COVID-19 from the half of million dollars ($0.5 million) announced in the July meeting held with MOH, MOS, and MFPD; increase health workers’ salaries, and payment of hazard benefits for all Healthcare Workers.
But NAHWUL said, to their utmost surprise, during the September 10, 2020 meeting at the Ministerial Complex, the government officials took turns to hurl threats and intimidation at leaders and members of NAHWUL, instead of addressing the workers’ concerns.
“They threatened dismissals of workers who will strike, and replace them with students, and Justice Minister Musa Dean was magnanimous in his words, when stressed the use of police and army. As we speak, this morning, the JFK Compound has been fortified with the presence of the Liberian National Police. For his part, Finance Minister Samuel Tweah pinpointed the Union’s Deputy Secretary General, who currently heads NAHWUL’s secretariat, as anti-CDC government. He has since been engaged in the holding of secret meetings with some members of our constituencies in a bid to divide and rule our membership,” the health workers union stated.
NAHWUL said it condemns these actions in the strongest term and calls on the government to refrain from interfering into the Union’s affairs.
“The Union is equally disappointed in Labor Minister Moses Kollie, who himself is a comrade trade unionist from the public sector who has chosen to cut the rope, having crossed the water. NAHWUL calls on Justice Minister Musa Dean to revisit Chapter 3 Article 17 of the Liberian Constitution to uphold our rights to a trade union. The union further draws the attention of Labor Minister Moses Kollie to Section 2.6 of the Decent Work Act,” the statement continued.
“In addition, the President of Liberia said he would sack health care workers who will protest and replace them with student nurses, mentioning that the Minister of Justice has the right to deploy police and the armed forces in the streets for those that will disturb civil liberty, although the Union did not at any time mention about street protest but requested redress to the MOU and other matters. Finally, NAHWUL calls on the government to honor the ILO Committee recommendations on case No. 3202 some two years ago,” the release, signed by NAHWUL assistance Secretary General Deemi T. Dearzrua, declared.