MORE than 5,000 community health workers (CHWs) nationwide have threatened to go on strike if the Government continues to ignore their awards review submission.
The PNG CHW Association president Dec Isaac told The National yesterday that CHWs worked in the country’s health facilities from aid-posts to hospitals.
“There is also a group of CHWs who work mainly in rural areas where 90 per cent of the population live,” she said. “They have waited for 13 years for the 2007 awards to be reviewed, including the successive awards.
“After 2010, negotiations began in 2014 but was abandoned in 2015 until now.
“I call on the Government, Department of Personnel Management and the Health Department to fast track the review submission on the terms and conditions of employment of CHWs.
“This is for all the CHWs, including those working in Government-run public health facilities, non-governmental organisations, churches, universities and the three disciplined forces,” Isaac said.
She said the review submission was shelved by some industrial officers from personnel in early 2015.
The delay caused misunderstandings between the hospital management, provincial health authority and others.
“The delay is not the association’s fault. Branch executives from Oro, Morobe and West New Britain are already in Port Moresby to give support for the industrial strike,” she said. “Failure by the two departments to address this issue will result in mass withdrawal of the work force.
“We are giving one week to these two departments to address this issue promptly.
“After March 15, if we do not receive a (positive) response, we will go ahead with the strike.
“Other unions are awarded and we too should be treated the same.
“We are the frontline workers in the Covid-19 pandemic that have been overlooked,” she said.
The awards included allowance for overtime, risk/service, uniform, housing, mental health, 25 shift (25 per cent), radiation and clinical.
Health Department industry officer Mulina Kwalmu told The National that the CHWs awards had not been paid.
“A review was done in 2014 but the negotiations stopped,” he said.
“The Department of Personnel Management (DPM) is the chief negotiator for the state and it has the power to call for negotiations.
“I will return to office next week and will call for a meeting with the association,” Kwalmu said.
The National / PNG Health News