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Politics News

Ellen boycotts event

ETU workers NDPresident Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf  was forced to boycott a planned global hand washing event at the dire minute on Thursday after former workers of Ebola Treatment Units or ETU here descended upon the venue, demanding their unpaid risk benefits.

With almost all the ETUs here closed and Liberia declared Ebola free for the second time last month, some former staffs of these ETUs are yet to receive their risk benefits, hence their continues protest to press home their demands for settlement.

And so Thursday event, which was held at the William V.S. Tubman High School located on 12th Street in Sinkor, where the president who has just received an award for her leadership role in combating the virus here was due to speak. They thought it was the perfect place to meet her and remind her of their plights.

The ex ETUs workers defied all protocol instructions as they position themselves strategically outside the public school compound holding  placards some of which read: “Until we see you ETU workers will never stop” and another asking a question-“when will we receive our benefits” “ETU workers need their benefits,” read another.

Initial efforts by officers of the elite presidential guard-Executive Protection Service or EPS to persuade the protesters to move across the street proved futile as riot police officers from the Police Support Unit or PSU of the Liberia National Police were immediately called to move the rioters across the street but the protesters remain adamant, insisting that they were peacefully protesting and seeking to speak with the president upon her arrival.

There was no scuffle witnessed between the securities and the protesters up to the time it became clear that President Sirleaf would not be attending the event. The protesters who claimed to have worked in ETUs during the crisis here said they have heard much unfulfilled promises from the government, thus prompting them to take their concerns directly to Mrs. Sirleaf.

leader of the former ETU workers Mr. Samuel Zogar told journalists during their protest that their protest has been ongoing for more than a year now. They claimed to have met with members of the Liberian Senate, Justice Ministry and Ministry of Health concerning their risk benefits, but said none of these meetings have yielded any tangible results.

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He accused the government of misleading them on payment of their risk benefits on grounds that they have been promised over and over, but to no avail. “We decided today to come here to make a visit to the President to inform her that the people, who fought Ebola are still here. They are still living … they need their actual benefit that was promised by the government,” he said.

He says they were promised US$2,500 each as ETU workers, but said they are yet to receive a dime since most of the centers were closed.

“We [are] the ones today [that] have Liberia free of Ebola … everybody you see here [are] all ETU workers. From Doctors, nurses, hygienists, plumbers, electricians – those groups make ETU workers,” he said.
One of the protesters also interviewed, Augustine T.J. Gbendee who claimed to have worked at one of the ETUs at ELWA argued that ETU workers did very well during the outbreak of Ebola here, but they are not given their risk benefits.

“… They had been talking to us that they will give our risk benefits… lots of sacrifice that we made – putting our … family members at risk, our community members at risk, our children and our friends,” he said.
He recalled how many ETU workers renting in people’s houses were thrown out by most landlords over fear that they would carry Ebola to their houses.

“And fortunately, we fought from the beginning of Ebola … in this country up to present; right now we are still here, the government has not done anything by telling us thank you and compensating us. And so we are here

this morning holding our placards for us to tell her that what we did, we deserve more than good,” he said.

By Winston W. Parley-Edited by Othello B. Garblah

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