The federal government, on Friday, said it has directed the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) to withdraw their strike notices immediately pending when both unions harmonise their positions on the new hazard allowance for health workers.
The Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige, who stated this after a meeting that held late Thursday and lasted till Friday morning in Abuja, lamented how the two unions had been having a disagreement on how to share the 300 per cent increment on hazard allowances, which came to a quantum amount of N37.5 billion.
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According to him, the government gave enough time to the two bodies of the health unions and professionals to harmonise their different positions on the hazard allowance, but they were not able to do so.
The minister said: “I have directed them to withdraw the trade dispute notices issued to the Federal Government by the National Association of Resident Doctors and JOHESU.
“I told them to withdraw because it is arm twisting. It is not allowed in ILO CBA negotiation. So, we expect them to withdraw those notices they gave.
“JOHESU gave a 15-day ultimatum with effect from June 28. NARD gave 28-day ultimatum from the day they had their NEC.
“Those things are arm twisting and I told them that they must withdraw them because the issues they are bringing in here are tangential issues.
“They have nothing to do with this discussion here on fixing a new hazard allowance for health professionals and workers.”
Ngige said the matter would be taken back to the National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission (NSWIC) and the Presidential Committee on Salaries to decide on the new hazard allowance for health professionals and workers.
He stated that the government was treading cautiously in order not to be seen as trying to stampede the health workers since the matter concerns money.
“We would have separated them into JOHESU and NMA but that will give us much problem in terms of the implementation of whatever we agree on.
“So, we are taking them jointly and it is yielding fruits now. The two big bodies have given their final positions.
“The Government has taken their final positions back. We have also allowed them time to see if they can discuss among themselves like they did just before COVID-19 and we came out with a COVID-19 allowance.
“We have given them that time to see if they can meet and harmonise their positions, but they were not able to do so.
“We are adjourning this meeting sine-die for the government side to look at those two positions to see whether we can do a middle of the road within our organ, the NSIWC, which by its mandate, is the government organ that fixes salaries, wages, allowances and remuneration.”
Those who were at the meeting included the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Enahire; Minister of State for Finance Budget and Planning, Clems Agba; Minister of State for Health, Olorunimbe Mamora; Permanent Secretary of Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Abdullahi and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Peter Yerima Tarfa.