By Christiana Onuoha
With the ongoing nationwide strike of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the latest strike warning by the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Nigeria’s health sector approaches a state of apocalypse; as the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association (AHPA), issue a 15-day strike warning to the Federal government.
Centered on government’s renege to fulfill previous agreements on outstanding welfare entitlement of workers, the unions in a strike notice letter jointly signed by JOHESU, NUAP, NANNM, SSAUTHRIAI, NASU and AHPA National Presidents; Comrade Biobelemonye Josiah, Comrade (Dr) Ogbanna O.C, Comrade Michael E. Nnachi, Comrade (Dr) B.A Akintola, Comrade (Dr) Makolo Hassan and Comrade Olumide Akintayo respectively; stated that they will commence a nationwide indefinite industrial actionafter the 15days strike notice should government fail to meet their demands.
Addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senate President, Speaker; House of Representatives, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, Director General; Department of State Service, Inspector General of Police, the Chairman; Nigerian Governors’ Forum, the President; Nigerian Labour Congress and the President; Trade Union Congress, the letter stated that the 15-day ultimatum was necessitated by “the non-challant attitude of government to the plight of its members.”
The strike notice letter further explained that, other issues include adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHES) as was done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) since 2014, payment of all withheld April and May 2018 Salaries of our members and withheld Salaries in Federal Medical Center, Owerri, JUTH and LUTH, review of the defective implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance, implementation of National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Consent judgment and other court judgments, increase in retirement age from 60 to 65 years for health workers and 70 years for Consultant Health Professionals.
According to the notice; ”Others are payment of reviewed hazard allowance in terms of payment that guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned, payment of actual 30 per cent consolidated basic shift duty allowance to Nurses/Midwives and others.
”Payment of teaching allowance to members on CONHESS 7 and 8 (Nurses, Midwives and others) and proper placement of Nurse Graduates and Interns.”
It also said that payment of outstanding salaries of intern health professionals and all the Tertiary Health Institutions, proper implementation of the consultant pharmacist cadre for pharmacists in the public sector, among others.
“You will recall that up till the time of writing this letter, the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to honour the Terms of Settlement entered into with JOHESU since September 2017.
”This is especially the upward review of CONHESS Salary Structure as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement amongst other requests.
”Government did not deem it fit to address these key issues during the duration of the last seven days warning strike and has only met with JOHESU on July 12.” The notice added.
On government’s renege on agreements, it said; “It would also be recalled that on July 2020, that the Minster of Health agreed that a mistake was made by government in the payment of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowances.”
Furthermore, it noted that the shortfall was in the payment of 50 per cent Basic of Consolidated allowances to all those Health Workers. It was a mistake on the part of government and the shortfall shall be paid according to affected health workers. And hinted; “till the time of this letter, the shortfall has not been paid. To make matters worse, when the payment for June 2020 was made, government decided to again wrongfully pay 10 per cent of Consolidated Basic Allowances to our members affected by the shortfall of April and May 2020.”
It went on to say; “This is in contravention of the spirit and content of the MoU signed on April 21, 2020. JOHESU, in compliance with the provision of Section 41 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap.T8 LFN 2004, is constrained to give the Federal Government of Nigeria 15 days ultimatum with effect from September 3.
”This also is to inform you that with effect from midnight of September 17, 2021, all our members in the Federal Health Institutions shall embark on an indefinite strike action in all state and Local Government health institutions.
”You are all placed on red alert for the strike, if the Federal Government foot drags in attending to our demands.
“JOHESU had shown maturity, selflessness and patriotism in the face of extreme provocations and government’s nonchalant attitude on the welfare of its members.”