Juxtaposition: Call for health care strikes in Liberia and in the UK

There was a time when societies accepted that certain professions and essential activities and vocations were considered to transcend the right to strike. But even today there are strikes and there are strikes.

There are many heroes in West Africa who in spite of low pay, delayed salaries and a shortage of protective equipment continue to treat the many Ebola patients around them. Ninety-five health workers have so far died from the virus in Liberia.

I am sure that the calls to strike in both Liberia and the UK have their own justifications. It is just that they both come today and it is the juxtaposition of the two strike calls which I find interesting.


BBCNurses and medical assistants fighting the Ebola outbreak in Liberia have largely ignored a call to strike over danger money and conditions. Most health workers were working as normal on Monday, the BBC’s Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia said. A union official said the government had coerced workers to ignore the strike – but the government said it had simply asked them to be reasonable.

Liberia is the country hit hardest by the deadliest ever Ebola outbreak. Health workers are among those most at risk of catching the disease. Ninety-five have died from the virus in Liberia.

The latest outbreak has killed more than 4,000 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria since it was identified in March. …….. Liberia’s National Health Workers Association, a union, had called the strike to demand an increase in the monthly risk fee paid to those treating Ebola cases.

It wants workers to be paid a risk fee of $700 (£434) a month. The fee is currently less than $500 a month, on top of basic salaries of between $200 and $300. The association also wants more protective equipment and insurance for workers, and has accused the government of not providing enough protection from the virus.


The GuardianNHS staff are to take further industrial action next month unless ministers agree to give them a 1% pay rise.

Unions whose members are taking part in the first walkout by NHS staff over pay since 1982 will undertake further action in November if the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, does not meet them for talks and offer more money.

“We are already planning, and will definitely be taking, further industrial action if the government doesn’t put more money on the table and doesn’t talk to us,” said Rachael Maskell, head of health at the Unite union. “There will definitely be more industrial action by NHS staff if Jeremy Hunt doesn’t sit down and talk and make more money available. It’s clear that the government are going to have to find money [to settle] this [dispute].”

The seven unions taking part in Monday’s action were discussing three options for the next stage of their attempts to force the coalition to pay all NHS staff the 1% rise recommended last year by the NHS Pay Review Body but rejected by Hunt.

Union sources said one option could be a repeat of the four-hour walkout by midwives, paramedics, porters and other non-medical staff. Another option would be to escalate that into a full-day stoppage. Or they may opt for different groups of workers taking action at different times over the course of a day.

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