11,000 Health Workers Threaten Strike Action in Demand of Salary Arrears & Increment Amid ‘High Cost of Living’

NAHWUL’s Secretary-General, George Poe Williams reading the group’s press statement

Paynesville – The National Health Workers’ Union of Liberia (NAHWUL) has threatened to stay away from work if the Government of Liberia does not pay salaries owed health workers for the months of July and August.

At a press conference on Wednesday, September 18, the group through its Secretary-General, George Poe Williams outlined series of recommendations it said when not met, 11,000 members of the union across the country will lay down their tools.

Chief among the recommendations include the increment of budgetary allotment for the health sector to provide adequate medical and laboratory supplies plus other logistics for health facilities across the country and increment of health workers’ salaries across the country.

The group wants the government to make complete payment of all health workers’ salaries up to date. They are also requesting the government to pay the salaries, incentive and all benefits for NAHWUL’s president Joseph S. Tamba and Secretary General George Poe Williams. The two men were wrongfully dismissed during the administration of ex-president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. 

Following recommendations for the Liberian Senate and pressure from international partners, the two men were reappointed by this current administration, but were not given their pay for the time they were out.

NAHWUL is also calling for the full implementation of Senator Armah Jallah Committee, and the inclusion of the health workers’ union in social dialogue in all related matters within the health sector.

Excerpt of the statement: “… by resolution of the plenary of national Executive Committee in session held at the union’s office on the 17th of September 2019, we wish to inform the general public and all concerned parties that henceforth, health workers in the public sector of the Republic of Liberia will as of 0:00 hour Monday, September 23, 2019 be laying down their tools until as such time their concern met by the Government of Liberia.”

Hardship Grappling Health Workers Amid Salary Deduction

According to NAHWUL Secretary General, health workers across the country are grappling with hardship amid the government’s failure to pay their salaries.

All effort to sit with the government to dialogue, he said has failed. 

The Union issued a statement a fortnight ago and among other things, called on the government to address the salaries of health workers.

The group also appealed to the Ministry of Education to extend the deadline for school registration to enable them register their children when the government pay them.

William said their request was turned down. The government refused to meet them and the Ministry of Education ignored their request.

Despite the oath to save lives, he lamented that cannot work when such an unfavorable condition.

“We took oath, but we didn’t take it for our children to die from starvation. The oath we took did not say our children should not go to good schools or have any education. We took oath but what we do is also what we get our living from,” he noted.

“In as much as we took oath to save lives, this what we do to get daily bread for our families. If we are not able to feed our children, and we advise people how to feed their children and their children are thriving well and ours are getting sick in our hands, how do we feel? Our children are not in school now, and we have nowhere to get money from.”