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Health workers to strike

Members of the Health and Social Welfare Workers Union throughout the country have threatened to strike, if their monthly allowance were not increased from US$55 to US$100.

Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale

The union is also calling for the resignation of three health officials, including Health Minister, Dr. Walter Gwenigale, Deputy Minister Dr. Bernice Dahn and Cllr. Vivian Cherue.

In a news conference held Wednesday in Monrovia, the Union said Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, Dr. Bernice T. Dahn, Deputy Minister and Chief Medical Officer, and Cllr. Vivian Cherue, Deputy Minister for Social Welfare must resign immediately to allow serious negotiation with the government.

Reading the press statement behalf of his colleagues, the Secretary General of the Union indicated a lump sum payment of the US$55.00 salary increment for all health and social welfare workers before 14 February.

The ministry had earlier, deducted US$55 from each health workers under the guise of accommodating new employees, but the union told newsmen that they are not responsible for government’s failure to pay its newly hired employees.

Secretary George Poe Williams noted that since the deduction of the amount of their allowances there is no record to show that it was indeed, paid to new employees in the health sector.

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According to him, the payment  of US$100 salary increment for all health and social welfare workers takes effect as of this FY  2013/2014 and a lump sum payment, covering the period July 2013 to February 2014 be deposited in all concerned accounts before midday 14th February or else they will abandon work across the country.

The union is also demanding the immediate employment of the over 4,000 health & social welfare workers who are serving the Liberian people without salaries. Mr. Williams maintained that a forensic audit of the Health and Social Welfare Ministry’s  multiple payrolls be conducted with immediate effected, and that Dr. Gwenigale, Dr. Dahn and Cllr. Vivian Cherue should not leave the country until they provide all necessary clarifications, should there be any, arising from the audit report.

The Worker Union used the time to called members of both the House of Representatives and the Liberian Senate to speedily enact the decent work bill before the 14th February.

It said the rest of Senator Jallah committee’s recommendation be given a timely consideration within the next sixty (60) days. According them, Dr. Dahn constantly intimidates health workers with threats of suspension and dismissals throughout the country.

“We are particularly molested by her unappreciable behavior whenever we have issues and meet her for solutions. She will instead tell us to either take or leave the job and if we complain much she will sack us and bring in Togolese, Ghanaian, Nigerian and Sierra Leonean nurses to work in our place,” they alleged.

They further alleged that Dr. Dahn single-handedly employed hospital administrators, and human resource managers and officials of some county health teams of interest to her, whom she gave extra authority and are answerable only to her. Up to press time Wednesday, the NewDawn was not able to verify these allegations by the health and social welfare workers union.

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