Trouble seems to be looming in the health sector as health and social workers have made a peaceful strike in demand of better salaries, working incentives and a suitable environment by March 30, 2013, if their petition is not addressed.

Some health workers on Tuesday, February, 19th presented a petition statement to members of the National Legislature Committee on Health under the banner “Health and Social Workers” at the Capitol Building in Monrovia.

According to the petition, taking into account the present socio-economic situations such as the high cost of school fees, transportation cost, house rent, cost of land and building material; not to mention high cost of the staple food (rice) and also considering the fabulous salaries of other workers in different sectors; taking into consideration the risks they (health workers’) take in providing care to people with infectious and contagious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and also their exposure to numerous  health hazards, yet according to them they are the least paid, their petition needs prompt redress.

 “Considering that employment opportunities and term of service remain a problem facing us health and social workers across the country, we are pleased to project the following; letter of employment, job description, government employment identification card, health policies with reference to civil servant and labor law, resettlement package upon employment, professional code of ethics and that employment of professional be done through our respective boards; PA, nursing and midwifery, laboratory, EHT, etc. in consultation with workers representatives.” the petition noted.

The health and social workers further noted that they overwork, including holidays and weekends and in many cases, without lunch break; yet they are given no bonuses nor overtime pay, or any form of allowances or benefits as the case with other civil servants in other ministries and agencies.

Speaking further, they said they feel dissatisfied over the alleged marginalization of over eighty percent of social workers in 2010 by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf announced increment for teachers, securities and health workers but only  few selected health workers are allegedly  benefiting.

 “We are totally disappointed and frustrated over the prolonged delay in the passage of the Decent Work Bill.” The health workers pointed out.

“We, representatives of the marginalized health workers who constitute eighty five percent of workers in the health sector from the fifteen sub-political division of Liberia; who take pay and borrow tomorrow converged on the compound of the Phebe Hospital Compound on January 19, 2013, to prepare, adopt and present our concerns to the 53rd National Legislature for a timely consideration; that the President’s 2010 gesture be extended to other health workers who up to date did not benefit,”they explained.

At the same time, the health workers further petitioned that annual leave be granted based on arrangement at the level of each facility in consultation with workers representatives; that MOHSW payroll be scrutinized with the help of external auditors in consultation with them; that all health workers who have volunteered and were contracted for more than six months to be automatically considered for employment.

The health workers also called for government to provide access to loan service, uniforms, disbursement of salaries, be through Eco-bank branches where they are assigned.

Meanwhile, the health workers have expressed disappointment and called for an immediate investigation into the mysterious disappearance and death of  the late Ballah Scott, a health employee at the JFK Memorial Hospital, noting that they have also set March 30,2013 as the deadline for their plea to be redressed by the National Legislature.