The National Health Workers Association of Liberia (NAHWAL) said it has gained pre-union status from the Liberia Labor Congress. The organization, pending certification from the Ministry of Labor, will now be called the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHWUL), .
George Poe Williams, Secretary General, said the organization has been struggling for a long period as an association and it was now time to gain union status.
To revamp the organization for union status, a conference organized by the executives of NAHWAL and the Liberia Labor Congress (LLC) as well international partners was held last Thursday at the Headquarters of the Liberia Labor Congress in Gardnersville, .
“There have been a lot of obstacles in the way by officials of government to prevent the organization from gaining full union status for the past three years,” said Mr. Williams who praised the LLC for its support.
“Government has told us that we as civil servants cannot organize a trade union or join union together and so we have researched and we have come to realize that there is nothing in the civil servant standing orders that they have been quoting that forbids us,” he said.
Mr. Williams said the government has introduced a program called ‘organizing and reorganizing of trade unions’ across the country as requirements to be met, which he said the organization has passed through to reach its current status.
“We are no longer National Health Workers Association Liberia, but we are now the National Health Workers Union of Liberia. A lot of benefits are there for the workers. And so becoming a union will give us the mantle to collective bargaining rights and to sit at the table with our employers and discuss issues on (the conditions of) work including benefits for the workers,” he said.
He said the government has no reason to prevent certificating the health workers on union status because the process of organizing and reorganizing has been completed and LLC has agreed to ensure that the organization is formulated to represent all the health workers of Liberia both public and private.
Meanwhile, Mr. Williams said the health workers will hold elections in September to install officers to steer the affairs of the union.
For his part, the Secretary General of the LLC, David Sackoh, confirmed that the reform and restructuring of the health workers’ organization is on track and will shortly be completed.
He further confirmed that the LLC has given full Union status to NAHWAL and as such, the Ministry of Labor could proceed to certificate the organization.
He however cautioned the government through the Labor Ministry to remain flexible with various workers and trade unions across the country as the reform process continues.
“The government or private sectors are not interested in individual workers but rather work force that comes under a single body called a union.” The ‘organizing and reorganizing of trade unions’ program is under the LLC in partnership with the Ministry of Labor with support from local and international partners.