President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has appealed to doctors who are threatening a strike action for their two-month arrears to show patience and patriotism by continuing their service to humanity.According to a dispatch from Marrakech, Morocco, President Sirleaf in a special but passionate message observed that in 2006, at the start of her administration, the salary and benefits of doctors was US$70 or its equivalent in local currency, with several delays in monthly payments. President Sirleaf said although working conditions for doctors leaves so much to be desired, today, the salary and benefits average US$4,000 for doctors and US$1,500 for government sponsored interns, with on time monthly payments and improved working conditions.She said recent delays in payments reflect the need to make changes in the currency of payment, reflecting the serious financial situation in the country.President Sirleaf said nevertheless, Cabinet discussions have centered on the need to improve the salaries and benefits of doctors, particularly those who are specialists, in order to provide better incentive for their valuable service.She then thanked Senator Coleman, Ministers and officials who are having ongoing consultations with the doctors.Meanwhile, the President has asked the doctors to meet with her upon return to the country.Liberian Doctors Tuesday gave the government 72-hour ultimatum, to resettle their two months arrears, that ends today, threatening to embark on nationwide strike action. Their demands also include the regularization of their salary payments.In a consensus meeting Tuesday on 9th Street in Sinkor, the doctors unanimously agreed to begin an all-out strike action from Thursday, Nov. 17, if the government fails to settle their arrears by Wednesday, Nov. 16.The spokesperson of the ‘Concerned Medical Doctors,’ Dr. Jonathan M. Hart, said the ultimatum began on Tuesday with a formal letter to the Ministry of Health, and copies distributed to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Speaker J. Emmanuel Nuquay and President Pro Tempore Armah Z. Jallah as well as the Country Representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank. With President Sirleaf’s appeal to the doctors to rescind their decision and work for humanity until she returns from a climate change conference in Morocco to resolve the matter, a source from the aggrieved doctors could not readily respond to question about their next course of action.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
California Attorney General Jerry Brown on Monday sued 20 toy makers and stores – including Mattel and Toys “R” Us – accusing them of knowingly manufacturing or selling toys with illegal and dangerous levels of lead. The news follows major recalls of toys, lunchboxes, children’s jewelry and other goods in the last year by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington. And it comes just as consumers start gearing up for the holiday shopping season. Officials with Mattel, the chief defendant in the suit, said the action was expected and predicted it would lead to more stringent safety standards. Because of the sheer size of the California market, lawsuits and regulations tend to have national repercussions. Brown filed the lawsuit, along with Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, at the Alameda County Superior Court. It focuses on safety improvements but also seeks financial penalties. “Mattel expected this development and believes that the attorney general’s assumption of this case will be beneficial to all parties,” the company said in a statement. “The use of paint with impermissable levels of lead by certain subcontractors was a clear violation of the company’s quality and safety standards.” Under Proposition 65 – known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 – businesses cannot expose individuals to hazardous chemicals without posting a clear warning. Under that law, 75 percent of the punitive damages would go to the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, the agency that administers Proposition 65. The rest would go to the Attorney General’s Office. “We have no expectation or goal” on how much money the companies might have to pay, said Tim Sullivan, a deputy attorney general. “We’re doing this to stop it from happening again. Penalties are part of the deterrent.” Among the companies named in the lawsuit are Mattel, Fisher-Price, Toys “R” Us, Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, KB Toys, Costco Wholesale, Eveready Battery Company, Kmart and Marvel Entertainment. Some companies are in confidential settlement negotiations – “and some are not,” Sullivan said. The attorney general’s office could settle separately with each company. Previous attorneys general have negotiated settlements to remove lead in candy, soda bottles, jewelry and other consumer products. Health advocates said they hope the lawsuit leads to better controls over what toys fall in the hands of children. “It could result in mandatory testing or mandatory monitoring requirements,” said National Health Law attorney Manju Kulkarni, who specializes in lead paint issues. “Ultimately, these companies are responsible. They stand to gain most when the toys do well, so in cases like this, they can lose the most in reputation and profits.” The lawsuit coincides with another organization’s call for Congress to ban lead in children’s toys altogether and to increase funding for the Consumer Product Safety commission. CALPIRG, a consumer advocacy group, is releasing its 22nd annual toy safety report today. “The discovery of lead is a serious health threat and it’s got to be addressed,” said Pedro Morillas, CALPIRG’s legislative advocate. “This lawsuit will hold companies accountable.” Brown launched his investigation into toy manufacturers and retailers after the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued recall notices for toys exceeding federal lead limits. Beginning with the recall of 1.5 million Thomas the Tank Engine toys in June, 46 toy products have been recalled for excessive levels of lead – totaling approximately 6 million toys this year. After the national recall, several private health advocacy groups alerted the attorney general’s office that they intended to sue. The attorney general, who has the option to take over these lawsuits or allow the complaints to continue independently, decided to take on the lawsuits. firstname.lastname@example.org (916) 441-2101160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “Companies must take every reasonable step to assure that the products they handle are safe for children and their families and fully comply with the laws of California,” Brown said in a statement. “Despite the lengthening global supply chain, every company that does business in this state must follow the law and protect consumers from lead and other toxic materials.” The lawsuit contends that companies knowingly exposed individuals to lead and did not provide warnings about the risks. Lead is known to cause cancer and reproductive harm, as well as other effects, such as learning disabilities in children. The lawsuit seeks to force manufacturers and retailers to adopt procedures for inspecting products to make sure they are safe. There is a statutory penalty of up to $2,500 for each item sold, officials said, though it is unlikely to reach that level. Los Angeles-based toy giant Mattel said the attorney general’s involvement would help steer the toy industry toward stronger safety standards.