Demand President Weah rescind their nominations
Workers at the nation’s major referral hospital, the John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) Memorial Medical Center, have threatened to down their tools in protest against the imminent reappointment of the hospital’s General Administrator and her Deputy, Dr. Wvannie-Mae Scott McDonald and Ms. Munah Tarpeh, respectively, by President George Weah.
Tensions rose at the hospital on Wednesday when angry workers led by the JFK Workers Union gathered in anticipation of a meeting with some members of the governing Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) transitional team who, according to reports, had gone there to officially announce the reappointment of the hospital’s administrators.
The leadership of the workers union said they are very bitter and disappointed with the manner in which the two have, for the past twelve years, administered the affairs of the nation’s premier healthcare center, saying they can no longer work with the administrator and her lieutenant.
The union leaders include David Gwei, president; Washington Taingay, vice president; Archie Theo, general secretary; and Nicholas Koffa, spokesperson.
Koffa told the Daily Observer that the leadership of Dr. McDonald has kept the hospital down and practically enslaved the workers. “We cannot work with these people anymore. When you enter the hospital you will feel bad about yourself. Workers are being treated like slaves and we cannot tolerate this any more,” he said.
According to Koffa, some of the pressing issues workers face under Dr. McDonald’s leadership include discrepancies in salaries, especially workers of the same department and status; wrongful dismissal of employees without due process, which he termed as another hallmark of “this wicked administrator and her cohorts”; and lack of improvement of the hospital’s infrastructure.
Dr. McDonald and her deputy’s reappointments, sources indicate, are being cleverly concealed and will be announced very soon.
“Some of our colleagues stay in the cold for five to six years without being employed but when people of their interest are brought in, they get employment status the same day.
“Our doctors cannot get even a fitting house. There are too many things happening at the level of JFK. We are not against them as individuals, but we are against their selfish behavior and the sheer wickedness being meted out against us here as workers,” he claimed.
Koffa continued: “It is against this backdrop that we are resolved to resist their reappointment because they are of no help to this institution. If President Weah is calling for power to the people and change as we saw during the campaign, he should reconsider his decision to reappoint those people here. They will never work in accordance with his vision. I know these people and I know what I’m saying. They are only here to get their bank accounts fat, but are not working in the interest of the Liberian people.”
Koffa is calling for some new faces “that will come here to bring changes that will improve the healthcare situation and employees’ welfare. We want the status and standard of JFK to improve so that it can compete with its counterparts in our sub region.”
Meanwhile, LNP officers secured the entire compound prior to the arrival of the transitional team—a strategy many of the workers thought was meant to intimidate them. “They brought police officers on the compound to intimidate us, but we said that we don’t need police and nobody was protesting here so there was no need for that,” Koffa, told the Daily Observer yesterday.
But unfortunately when the transitional team arrived, they were not able to officially present the reappointed officials to the workers. Some influential members, including Senator Peter Coleman and Representative Saah Joseph did not appear for the meeting, neither did the reappointed officials.
The transitional team led by Dr. Jerry Brown of the ELWA hospital, informed the workers that they should work with Dr. McDonald and her deputy as a vetting process was still going on—although this contravenes the mandate of the President, who had said that the head of human resources (HR) should take charge of ministries, autonomous agencies and other government entities.
“We are aware that these people have been reappointed but they are using clever attempts to play with our intelligence, but this won’t work,” Koffa warned.
He said further that the action of the team appeared insincere and had political undertones. He put it this way: “When we asked why the HR could not take charge of the hospital as mandated by the President, Dr. Brown explained that the HR is not a signatory to the hospital’s bank accounts. But this should not be an excuse because in management when an official is leaving there is a letter of authorization that is passed down to the incoming leader.
“Their presentation was not clear, it has political undertones and we will not agree to it. The team was not able to tell us how long these people are going to stay at the hospital—we demanded a time frame,” said Koffa.
They revealed that the Deputy Administrator of the hospital, Munah Tarpeh, is a niece of President Weah’s confidante and Commerce Minister Designate, Wilson Tarpeh, who has reportedly bragged that it was her uncle who ‘made Weah’ and as such she cannot be removed from her post. “She’s boasting in the compound that nobody can remove her because her uncle made Weah president,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the union leaders corroborated reports that the administrator and her deputy “looted” the facility in the wake of President Weah’s pronouncement. “They brought in a jeep and a pickup truck and carried away freezers, flower pots, curtains, beds and 60 bags of rice from the kitchen,” union leaders claimed.
The Daily Observer made several mobile phone calls and forwarded text messages to both General Administrator and Deputy General Administrator, Dr. McDonald and Ms. Tarpeh, for their reactions to the demands and allegations of the workers, but neither of them responded up to press time yesterday.