Liberia: Govt, Health Workers in Deadlock

22 September 2019
press release

Government negotiators and aggrieved members of the National Health Workers Union of Liberia (NAHWUL) have failed to reach any agreement to call off NAHWUL's planned protest beginning 12 a.m. on Monday, 23 September across the country.

"By mandate of the National Executive Committee, haven perused the government's [promise] without meeting a single demand, have rendered their efforts not good enough to call off the action," NAHWUL says in a statement issued Saturday, 21 September in Monrovia.

Last week NAHWUL announced here that it would have commenced a strike by laying down tools at health centers until government meets its demands, including payment of all its members' salaries in full, increment of salaries and other incentives, among others.

In their subsequent statement authorized by NAHWUL Secretary General Mr. George Poe Williams on Saturday, 21 September, the health workers expressed utmost surprise that Health Ministry's Media Consultant Mr. Sorbor George would announce that the health workers' planned strike had been called off.

NAHWUL brands Mr. George's claim as untrue, malicious, and intended to mislead the public.

NAHWUL has challenged Mr. George to present the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Government of Liberia (GoL) and NAHWUL by 12 midnight on Sunday, 22 September, as failure to do so the Union's strike action would remain as planned beginning midnight on 23 September until their demands are met.

"On the other hand, Mr. Sorbor George must do an apology to NAHWUL on all media outlets on which he has spread this falsehood before any further negotiation can begin," the health workers insist.According to NAHWUL, government has made some efforts to hold a meeting with the Union's leadership, but clarifies that at no point was any MoU reached or signed between the two parties.

In their meeting, NAHWUL asserts that government presented what it has done, what is being done, why it is doing what it is doing, and going forward what it will be doing concerning the harmonization plan and keeping the payroll up running.

NAHWUL says government appealed that the Union would call off its strike action, but he meeting ended on the note that the health workers' leadership was returning to its members to present government's response to their demands.Based on discussion with their members, NAHWUL indicates that its leadership would have gone back to the government negotiating team with whatever reaction from the Union's members against the appeal by the government.

Ahead of this, NAHWUL expresses surprise that Mr. George alleged that the health workers' planned strike had been called off.

"Far from the [truth], the action has, in fact been inflamed the most by his insensitivity to the plight of the workers, and his gross disrespect for our union's leadership," the health workers say.NAHWUL warns that Mr. George is not its spokesperson, adding that he is not its member.

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