At least 48 Gambian nurses are currently on a sit-down strike beginning on Tuesday. They have vowed to stay away from duty until The Gambia government settles their pending COVID-19 allowances. The unpaid allowances are said to be an accumulation of a three-month benefits they have been pushing for the government to settle. Yet all efforts were futile prompting the strike.
This strike is the latest following a similar one few months ago. The chairman of the COVID-19 Select Committee, Antouman Jagne told The Chronicle that their efforts of engaging the Ministry of Health to resolve the matter amicably was not successful. “We believe in dialogue. But this is the only option we have. We never thought of resorting to any sort of violence. That’s why when this whole thing started from August, when we were employed, we were having the belief as we were informed, that they would be giving our salaries as soon as possible.”
He said by September, they were expecting to be paid but to their dismay, no payment was done. He said the 48 nurses are currently not reporting to work as they await documentation and arrangement of payment of their allowances and salaries. According to him, the dissatisfied nurses had been writing and engaging the concern ministry but to their dismay, nothing has come out of it.
“We, frontline workers, are the most important people when it comes to the COVID-19 team, as people directly dealing with confirmed cases, both symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. We stabilize them and then release them. Looking at all those things, we felt the need that we are entitled to an allowance.”
A source at the Ministry of Health said the matter has been amicably resolved at the ministry’s level. “They were properly handled by the permanent secretary number 2 for admin and finance and actually we listened to them and also apologized for what happened. It was purely administrative because when they’re confirmed and so on, they need to get all their papers before the salaries have to be processed. But actually, the Ministry has assured them that this November they would’ve inputted all the affected nurses for their salaries and areas would be paid end of November. So, this assurance had been given to them and the ministry stands by that.”