Contact Tracers recruited by the government through the Ministry of Health remain disenchanted over their wages as their hope of getting what they worked for gets delayed time after time. Amid numerous disappointments, the Contact Tracers have no alternative but to rise up in protest against the procrastination in getting their wages that they claim the government owes.
Along the stretch of road leading to the Du-Port Road clinic on Monday, September 7, the disenchanted Contact Tracers converged and blocked the road, calling on the Ministry of Health to pay their wages as they had waited patiently without any result.
The protest caused huge traffic congestion for about an hour but, with the intervention of the Liberian National Police (LNP) to plead with the protesters to remove the roadblock, the protesters halted their action, opting for settlement through dialogue.
Even though they left, the protesters threatened to return shortly if they did not get any favorable results from the government.
Christiana N. Tokah, a protester in an angry mood, told the Daily Observer that she joined her friends to demand what she rightly worked for.
Ms. Tokpah said after they had worked for four months, without receiving their benefits, they had a meeting with the head of the Montserrado County Health Team, Precious T. George, who is their direct supervisor but, unfortunately, they have not been able to get any result.
“We are tired running after Precious and her bosses for our money, we were under the rain and sun just to get sick people, try to establish whether people were washing their hands — using our own resources to recharge our mobile phones just to send the information, producing our own forms to get people’s names because the Ministry of Health did not provide any of those materials. Yet, they have refused to pay us today,” Ms. Tokpah said, expressing her frustration.
Ms. Tokpah said they gathered before the Du-Port Road health center because it is the headquarters of the county health team that recruited them.
Emma N. Darwar narrated that after they had worked, Madam George, being their head, informed them on many occasions that the government is awaiting partners before the contact tracers can get their salaries. This, according to Ms. Darwar, was not a part of the agreement.
Ms. Darwar said after they had waited for a longer period of time without a result, they decided to engage Madam George, who organized a meeting and promised that they would get paid in ten days.
“They begged us and we came to the understanding that they were going to reduce our money from US$200 per month to US$60 to be paid within ten days. We agreed to it because we did not want to be running up and down for something we have labor for. The ten days ended on August 25 but, up to present, we have not been able to get our money or even a word from them,” she said.
Ms. Darwar expressed disappointment in the Ministry of Health for the alleged treatment.
Diggs Jallah, the official spokesperson of the group, said in April they were selected through their community leaders to work with the Ministry of Health as active-case Contact Tracers as well as engaging the community to ensure people follow the health protocols.
Jallah said after their selection, they were placed directly under the supervision of Madam George. “At that time we went for a workshop where we told Precious that we wanted to sign a contract, but she rejected the proposal on grounds that the situation was urgent and we must start right away.”
“We did that work without a day off. Some of our friends came down with the virus and died. We staged a peaceful protest on August 13, but up to now they have refused to pay us…we want our money that we worked for,” he said.
Jallah said during the workshop, they were told to sign for US$10 while Precious allegedly gave them US$5.00, adding that with this ‘insincerity,’ they strongly believe that few individuals have eaten their money.
In a telephone conversation, madam Precious George told the Daily Observer that the protesters did not work for an individual but an institution that is trying in all of its weak ways to pay them, adding, “Because they are limited that is why they are witch-hunting me.”
“I was only their supervisor at the county level; so, any journalist that wants information can contact the Minister of Health. She is the right person to respond to them and not me,” she said.