Liberia: Mass Dismissal Soon

..As Government Plans To Replace Non-Compliance Health Workers

The Liberian government has decided to carry out mass dismissal of any health worker who fails to report to work despite their unpaid salaries.

As a result of that, President George M. Weah has instructed the Ministry of Health to hire new health workers to replace those protesting for better working conditions.

"Therefore, the Ministry of Health has been instructed to solicit applications from qualified health workers of various grades, including nurses, nurse aides, midwives, laboratory technicians, etc, in order to fill the temporary vacancies that have resulted from the strike action. These applications must be submitted immediately to county health centers, the Ministry of Health, and the JFK, for screening by the MOH," a statement from the Ministry of Information signed by Eugene Lenn Nagbe says late Saturday said.

The Liberian government said despite steps taken by them (Government of Liberia) to amicably resolve the ongoing standoff with members of the leadership of the Health Workers Association of Liberia, they continue to remain uncompromising, unreasonable and recalcitrant.

The release added that the leadership (health workers) continues to demand unionization for health workers, in addition to an immediate implementation of standardized pay-grade and increment in salaries for more than 9,000 health workers at an estimated cost of US$15 million per annum. The leadership is also demanding payment for more than 11,000 health workers who are not directly involved with COVID19 response, potentially a payment of US$8 million as "hazard pay" in addition to their regular monthly salary payment through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning.

"The government has also committed U.S. $2 million as initial payment of the hazard honorarium. While acknowledging the hard work and enormous sacrifice health workers continue to make, the government emphasizes that there are limits to its capacity to handle all of the workers' demands in the short run" the release added.

"These applications must be submitted immediately to county health centers, the Ministry of Health, and the JFK, for screening by the MOH. The new recruitment will not affect health workers who did not abandon their posts. The government reiterates its commitment to ensuring that there is continuing improvement and viability of the health sector" it intoned.

"Meanwhile, the government commends the army of volunteers, including nurses and medical officers of the Armed Forces of Liberia, who have stepped up to fill the gap in areas where some health workers have abandoned their posts. Such volunteers will be given first preference as the government hires to fill the gaps" the release furthered.

But some health workers who pleaded not to be named said the action of the government is taking serious risk with the lives of Liberians.

One of them said "In this health work, we have something called lonely hours."

Some of the practicing health workers said they are not going to be part of anything that will lead to endangering the lives of Liberians.

"The best thing this government can do is to make sure they keep talking with the health workers for this thing to not go far. I do not think what they are asking for is too much as compared to the lives Liberians" another health worker remarked.

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