News / Africa

Liberian Government Talks with Striking Health Workers

FILE - Nurses tend to a man lying in traction at a hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.FILE - Nurses tend to a man lying in traction at a hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
x
FILE - Nurses tend to a man lying in traction at a hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
FILE - Nurses tend to a man lying in traction at a hospital in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
Jennifer Lazuta
The Liberian government says negotiations are underway with more than 20,000 public health workers who have been on strike since July 23. The Ministry of Health has called on the health workers to return to work while the talks take place, but striking employees say they will stay home until their demands have been met. Patients, meanwhile, say they just want to receive treatment.
 
Negotiations between the Ministry of Health and leaders of the National Health Workers' Association of Liberia continued Thursday in the capital, Monrovia.
 
It’s been more than a week since Liberian public health workers - primarily nurses - stopped showing up to work. They are staging the country’s first nationwide health care strike to protest the government’s failure to respond to their demands for better benefits and working conditions.
 
"The government should see a reason to pay the civil servants, to employ people," said Philip Tamba is the deputy spokesperson for the National Health Workers' Association of Liberia. "We should respect labor laws in this country.  We don’t just work because we feel like working.  There are so many qualified Liberians that are qualified to provide health services for the Liberian people, for the masses.  But as I am speaking to you, now those people are sitting down although they told us to go back to work.”
 
Three basic demands

Tamba said the nurses have three main demands.
 
He said the first is an increase in salary.  Registered nurses in Liberia currently take home around $150 per month.  They are now asking for their salary to be increased to at least $200 per month.
 
The second demand is the timely payment of wages.  Tamba said many of the nurses report going two or three months without receiving their paychecks.
 
Tamba said the third demand is that the government give full-time employment status to longtime contracted workers, who do the same work as their employed colleagues, but receive no benefits.

Need for 'give-and-take'

Minister of Health Walter Gwenigale said he understands the concerns of the nurses, but said they must be willing to compromise because the Ministry’s budget isn’t big enough to meet all their demands.
 
"I want to confirm that I’m willing to continue to talk to the health workers on behalf of the health of our people; that it is important that the differences that we have be discussed and resolved," he said. "But there is one thing called negotiation where you have give-and-take, and there is something called a demand that must be met, irrespective of what happens.  Clearly some of these things that the people were talking about, some are at our level, others are not at our level."
 
As negotiations continue, Gwenigale and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf have both urged the striking nurses to return to work for the sake of Liberia’s health.
 
Public hospitals and clinics throughout the country remain closed or are seriously understaffed.
 
Residents are increasingly complaining of not being able to find health care for themselves and loved ones.
 
Since the strike began, at least eight people are reported to have died after not receiving medical treatment.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid