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Liberia: Redundant NPHIL Workers Threaten Strike Over Arrears

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Monrovia – Redundant staffs of the National Public Health Institute of Liberia have threatened to go on strike for the second time if the institution fails to pay their salary arrears as mandated by the House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, October, the spokesman of the aggrieved former workers Samuel Babajuah told FrontPage Africa that since a mandate was passed on August 8, by the House of Represenatives instructing NPHIL to pay their benefits, the agency continues to pay deaf ear.

The workers are now turning to President George Weah to make intervention.

“We are calling on President Weah to mandate NPHIL to pay us no later than this week. We do not intend to do another roadblock, because young people are always noted for staging violence before getting redress.  If no intervention is made, we will lock the gates of NPHIL [and] on her partners and no one will go to work. It’s going to be a very serious issue,” Babajuah said. 

“Our action will be very soon; we are not announcing a particular date before the security come to block us as they did before. We are going to lock the gates and stay in with anyone who will be at work that day until the President can come in and do something”

He said the redundant staff have agreed not to settle for any compromise because NPHIL has failed to pay their arrears.

He maintained that instead of addressing their arrears following their first strike, NPHIL chose to go through two major hearings with them at the House of Representatives conducted the committee on health. Following the hearing, NPHIL was mandated to pay them. 

“On Monday we met with Dr. Mosoka Fallah, who is now the Acting Director of NPHIL, and he told us that they were writing the House back to come up with a compromise. We are concern about why they are coming up with a compromise when you have been instructed by the House to pay us our money when you consented to doing so earlier,” Babajuah said.

In its August 8, 2019 report to NPHIL, a copy of which is in the possession of FrontPageAfrica, caption “Health Committee on Health decision in the NPHIL Redundant Workers Case”, the report mandated NPHIL to pay the arrears of the 14 affected employees.

Stated the report: “In the decision of the committee, the management of NPHIL is herein instructed to pay the redundant employees their balance payment in the amount of US$800.00 to each of the redundant employees within the period not exceeding two months.”

Since the termination of their contracts by NPHIL on February 15, 2019, the redundant staffs have complained that they have not received their arrears in full.

Nimba County District Number Three Representative Joseph N. Somwarbi, who Chairs the House Committee on Health, has also confirmed the report from the lower house, noting that it was served to NPHIL a long time.

“NPHIL replied to us and accepted our report and said that they even wanted us to advocate for inclusion of such money into their budget and I accepted,” Representative Somwarbi said.

Representative Somwarbi said he was also informed by the redundant staffs that NPHIL was seeking to go through a negotiation with them.

He, however, admonished the redundant NPHIL staffs that staging a strike action will not be the right option to pursue their case, but rather continue the process of dialogue.

“You can use our report as your evidence to further pursue or go to the Ministry, but I don’t think that staging a strike action is the rightful means,” he said.

NPHIL has insisted that the staff are Emergency Medical Service Center (EMS) and were redundant in keeping with the Decent Work Act of 2015. 

In statement released in Febuary this year, NPHIL said that the redundant staffs were contracted to provide services on behalf of the Institute in various capacities and were “jointly compensated by the World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Response Support and the Cooperative Agreement (CoAg) Project funded by the Government of the United States through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).”

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