Health Workers Ordered to Return to Work -Govt. Functionary Labels NAHWUL Sec. Gen. a Politician Risking Lives
In the wake of the Stay Home Action initiated Tuesday by health workers across the country in demand for salary increment, risk hazard payment, among others, sources at the Ministry of Finance say the Government of Liberia had already agreed to pay US$2 million in hazard for health and US$1 million for private school teachers. The highly connected government source in fact labelled the Secretary General of the National Health Care Workers Association, George Poe Williams, as a politician who wants to risk the lives of Liberians by unilaterally calling a strike action when the head of the Association, Mr. Tamba, and other members are also not in agreement. The highly connected MFDP functionary operating under the alias Prisca Paul further called on health workers not to obey any call for strike and return to work.
According to Prisca Paul, the fact of the matter is that President George Weah met leaders of the health workers Association at the Ministerial Complex last week and told them to work with the government to solve problems.
“The Justice and Labor Ministers told them that they cannot be a union when the law does not allow that. To unionize they have to petition the government or Legislature to change the law, but striking for union is not advised and would not be tolerated,” Prisca Paul noted.
The Finance Ministry source further intimated that the Minister of Finance and the head of the Civil Service Agency boss told the health workers leadership that the salary of health workers was protected during harmonization.
“Salary reductions observed are because the Government combined general allowance and basic salary which might put a worker in a higher tax bracket, or because the social security tax rate is now being applied on the combined General allowance and basic salary. In the past, social security deduction was taken from only the Liberian Dollars salary, so it was a smaller amount,” Paul stated, adding that the President advised his ministers to better communicate these technical facts to Government workers to avoid confusion.
“The President informed the Health workers leaders that the Government was studying the proposal for hazard pay so they needed to be patient. He said Hazard pay was given during Ebola because there was a lot of money. Now the Government does not have USD 9 million to pay Hazard but will find a reasonable amount to pay,” the Finance Ministry source claimed.
Following the Ministerial Complex meeting with the health workers leadership, Prisca Paul disclosed that the Government called another meeting last Saturday at the Boulevard Hotel which the Secretary General boycotted. At that meeting the Government agreed to pay USD 2 million in hazard for health and US$1 million for private school teachers.
“The Government also agreed to put more physician assistants on the payroll and assign them to rural areas. The Government agreed to look at upgrades for nurses pay on a case by case basis since the resources for a general increase in salary are not available. The Government noted that increasing nurses’ salary and bringing more nurses on the payroll at the same time cannot be done,” Prisca Paul further revealed, adding that the government will not tolerate actions that pose risk to the lives of Liberians, and that the health workers Secretary General, George Poe Williams needs to be removed from that position because he is an unreasonable politician.
Efforts to contact Mr. Williams for comments proved futile up to press time.