By Bekai Njie
Staff of major hospitals in the country such as Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, Serekunda General Hospital, Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital and Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Center will go on sit-down strike if government fails to pay their transport allowances, according to the secretary general of a joint task force committee, Ousman Sparo Touray.
Mr. Touray was speaking to journalists earlier today during a press conference organised by the said committee held at the Serekunda General Hospital.
“The task force committee has exhausted all limits of professional negotiations, but the affected individuals are still not paid. They are subjected to an indefinite waiting with zero hopes of receiving this payment,” he said.
The committee they said was establish in June 2018 with a view to follow up the unpaid transport allowances increment as announced by the Finance minister during the 2018 Budget Speech.
The administrations of the four main hospitals, he added, have made tireless efforts at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare from January to June in order to find out about the said transport increment but to no avail.
According to him, the represented staff of the saidhospitals have been working for eight months without receiving their complete payment in contrast to the December 2018 Budget Speech.
The Ministry of Health, he went on, has informed them prior to the press conference that a cheque has been drawnfrom the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare for the payment to be made.
“This information received prompted a decision of giving the Ministry of Health an ultimatum and that if the payments do not reach our accounts by the 10th of September 2018, then the staff of this four hospitals will take a sit-down strike with effect from 11th September 2018 and no form of negotiations will prevent us from embarking on our strikes,” he emphasised.
Lamin Jafuneh, the spokesperson of the joint task force committee said the committee was formed in June 2018 to follow up the progress of the increment of the transport allowance, adding that there was an announcement that transport allowances for civil servants from grade 1 to 8 was increased from D500 toD1,500.
“Other departments have been paid. However, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, Kanifing General Hospital, Bundung Maternal and Child Health Hospital and Sheikh Zayed Regional Eye Care Center are yet to be paid.”
Salifu Conteh, assistant public relations officer of the committee said not only nurses are involved in the planned sit-down strike but the entire staff of the four hospitals ranging from the nurses, lap technicians, doctorsand the pharmacies.