Health workers under the banner of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL) on Friday, September 27, 2019, announced that they were returning to their respective areas of assignments, thereby ending their nationwide strike action.
NAHWAL’s decision to return to their respective health facilities followed a dialogue their representatives held with the government through the authorities of the Ministry of Health (MoH).
NAHWUL Secretary-General George Poe Williams, at a joint press conference held at MoH on Friday, said the health workers’ strike action across the country ended around 12:00 a.m. on Thursday, September 26, 2019.
Williams expressed NAHWUL’s regret over the “ugly situation, therefore, we wish that in the future, such a general action would never reach a crisis point.”
He added that the health workers’ action came shortly after their former proposed “dialogue” with the government did not meet the expected result, “because government representatives on the negotiation table blatantly refused to address our concerns, which included pay raise and other benefits.”
“Having negotiated with the government in good faith, the national executive committee of NAHWUL is pleased to announce that it has called-off the go-slow action, which began on Monday, September 23, 2019,” Williams declared.
He continued, “The Association wishes to inform the public that its members did not intend to institute a go-slow action during such a time, but were constrained to do otherwise, due to government’s prolonged undermining of our concerns.”
Williams said that NAHWAL’s national executive committee recognized efforts of the health workers, who have made and continue to make all the ultimate sacrifices just because of the passion they have to serve humanity.
“As you may be aware, some of the health workers are assigned in very rough terrains, where they sometimes have to cross over dangerous rivers in canoes to get to their places of work, a situation which is highly risky, particularly during the rainy season, and yet we are not paid for months,” he said.
He said health workers have to pay the hard cost of house rental fees even in villages where they work 24 hours each day and seven days per week, but they are expected to work without pay because they are under oath to prevent death.
To his colleagues who have remained off the job since Monday, William said, “We are therefore calling on you to return to your various places of work as the national executive committee encourages you to remain ethical in the discharge of your duties.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, assured the health workers that the government will address their concerns appropriately and in the shortest possible time.
Dr. Jallah said they will work with NAHWAL to provide the needed medical supplies to the various facilities.
She meanwhile extended an open apology to citizens who were directly or indirectly affected by the strike action.
It can be recalled that NAHWAL, on Monday, September 23, 2019 staged a go-slow action, effectively disabling all public health facilities across the country due to the “government’s failure to pay salaries.”
The strike action spun off into a separate protest in which pregnant women and baby-mothers set up a roadblock at the Du-Port Road junction in Paynesville City, when they were reportedly denied treatment at a nearby government-run maternity facility. The women’s action was followed by nurses at the country’s leading referral hospital, John F. Kennedy (JFK) Medical Center in Monrovia, laying down their assigned nursing equipment in demand of salaries and other benefits.