By: Rancy S. Teewia
The National Health Workers’ Union of Liberia (NAHWUL) has called off its nationwide Go-slow strike action after days of negotiation between the group and the Government of Liberia to amicably resolve the situation that shut down operation of public health facilities across the country.
“Having negotiated with the Government of Liberia in good faith, the National Executive Committee of NAHWUL is pleased to announce a call off of the Go-slow action which began at 0:00 hour, September 23, 2019,” NAHWUL Secretary General George Poe Williams said.
On September 23, 2019, the National Health Workers’ Union of Liberia began rounds of strike across the country to draw attention of the Liberian Government to issues affecting health workers ranging from delay of salary payments, recent salaries harmonization and lack of drugs and equipment in the public health sector of Liberia.
Williams said it was never the intension of the NAHWUL to stage a Go-slow in such stringent times, but that “health workers were constrained to do so due to the prolong overlook of their concerns by past and present authorities”, noting, “NAHWUL regrets this ugly situation and prays we never have to reach this point again.”
Speaking at the joint press conference of NAHWUL and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOH) on Friday September 27, 2019, in Monrovia, George Poe Williams said weeks ago the National Health Workers Union of Liberia called for dialogue with the Government of Liberia to address the issue of major concerns in the health sector, the delay of their salaries, salary harmonization and the lack of drugs and equipment.
“The National Executive Committee wishes to recognize the efforts of health workers who gave their all for the passion to serve humanity for which they were being prosecuted. We wish to thank you for your tireless efforts,” he said.
Continuing, Mr. Williams said: “We are aware that some of you crossed rivers using canoes to get to your places of assignments, particularly, during the rainy season and yet you are not paid for months. We know of those who have to pay high cost of rent even in villages where you work 24 hours each day and seven days per week. Even so, you are expected to work without pay because you have taken an oath. NAHWUL says BRAVO to you for your sacrificial services.”
He also called on health workers to return to various posts and continue their duties, while encouraging them to remain ethical.
“You are, therefore, called upon to return to your various places of work to continue, as the National Executive Committee encourages you to remain ethical in the discharge of your duties.”
Also speaking, the Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah stressed that her Ministry will work with the National Health Workers Union tirelessly to ensure all healthcare workers are catered to.
“We will work with the Health Worker Union tirelessly to make sure all our health care workers are taken care of, and we will make sure needed materials and supplies are available and government will do its best to ensure these things are there for the Liberian people.” Dr. Jallah stressed.
She extended apologies to those affected by the strike action and assured that the Ministry of Health will do everything possible to provide deserving quality health care to the Liberian population.
“And we want to extend our apologies to those who were affected by the strike action; we will continue to do our best in making sure that Liberians get the best quality of health care that they deserve,” Dr. Jallah enthused, further disclosing that the distribution of essential drugs and medical equipment across the 15 counties will begin October 1, 2019.