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NAMs seek resolution to health workers’ suspension

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By Tabora Bojang

The National Assembly committee on health yesterday summoned the Personnel Management Office to enquire and find a solution to the current suspension of 371 heath workers.

The committee wanted the 2 months suspension to be lifted so that the workers could resume in August. They however began by asking the PMO what happened.

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Responding, the Permanent Secretary Lamin Jawara, said in  the decision to suspend the workers is not entirely that of the PMO but the Public Service Commission. ”We just supported but it did not emanate from us,” he said.

PS Jawara told the NAMs that lifting the suspension could be a bit complicated because the chairman of the Public Service Commission, whose office approved the suspensions, felt his authority is seriously undermined over ‘indiscipline utterances’ of the striking health workers on the radio.

“What makes this one even more difficult [to address] is the fact that, the chairman of the PSC was himself listening to the radio in the morning while he was coming to work, and heard these people [public health workers] talking over the radio and making disparaging remarks against the whole authority. And this was a time when the ministry was trying to accommodate them. So, the chairman summoned us for a meeting and said that he is very furious about what he heard [on radio] and that we must do something and that was when we contacted the Ministry of Health and they were compelled to do something about the problem”, Jawara told the committee.

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PS Jawara further claimed that prior to the suspension, the former Secretary General had severally cautioned the public health workers against talking to the media but they never heeded his advice.

“We know that civil servants have been talking to the media but let me tell you, we have so far even dismissed a few civil servants for doing so,” Mr Jawara said.

PS Jawara added that while previous strikes by teachers and other cadres of civil servants were considered genuine, the public health workers are on the contrary claiming for an allowance that was never approved. “That is unethical,” Jawara charged. He informed lawmakers that PMO is only a technical arm of the PSC and as a result, he could only plead with them to lift the suspension for next month.

“The decision is not PMO’s. We don’t make decisions. It is the Public Service Commission. We can only go back and convey your concern for them to look into it,” PS Jarawa told National Assembly members.

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