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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Striking Ebola Workers in West Africa

Ebola Workers in West Africa Strike Over Not Being Paid.

On November 26, 2014, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf visited the Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) and according to the Liberia News Agency, she stated that although it is difficult working with such a disease, the health workers are “doing extremely well in tackling it,” adding, “Thank you very much for serving your country. “However, workers at the ETU have staged a protest in demand of salaries for November and December, 2014. A hotline was established by the United Nations Development Programme to make all back payments by the end of 2014 however, no progress has been made to date.

Decontamination before exiting an Ebola Treatment Unit
Decontamination before exiting an Ebola Treatment Unit
A spokesperson for the workers, stated the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare instructed them to open bank accounts where their monthly salary will be transferred for payment but, the money was never deposited into their accounts. As of January 2015, no money has been received; this is an ongoing issue since the outbreak of  Ebola in portions of West Africa. The lead staff person, Dr. Jonathan Hart informed President Sirleaf that the Liberian ETU lacks an ambulance and operational vehicles as well as uniforms for the Ebola workers.
Sudipto Mukerjee of the United Nations Development Programme stated “The transition from direct cash to an electronic solution will help to improve overall efficiency, timeliness and security of payments for Ebola response workers.” “We cannot afford to lose a single minute where people have put their tools down and refuse to work,” he said. “That is why reliable and predictable mobile payments are so significant.” Response workers battling the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone will receive “hazard pay” for the first time using mobile money because “unless there is a certain element of incentives, or danger pay, it’s very difficult to attract and retain people.”

“These people are working on the front lines. They could be alive today and dead tomorrow,” he said. “If they’re not paid on time, if they’re not paid the right amount of money, they get frustrated and they tend to protest, which means that whatever Ebola care is being provided will no longer be available. We cannot afford a strike. We have to keep the whole system going.”

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