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Health workers threaten strike, give FG 15-day ultimatum

Health workers under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have given the Federal Government 15-day ultimatum…

Health workers under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have given the Federal Government 15-day ultimatum with effect from Sunday August 30 to embark on strike over welfare issues.

The union said after 15 days, its members would begin a strike from September 13 if the Federal Government of Nigeria failed to address its demands.

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It expressed dismay that the government has not acted on five letters written to highlight the outstanding welfare issues.

The issues include: “Review of the defective implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance; Payment of all withheld Salaries of our members, including the withheld April and May 2018 Salaries; Adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as was done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) since 2014.

Others are the implementation of National Industrial Court of Nigeria’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Consent judgment and other court judgments and structural and infrastructural decay in our health sector.

JOHESU gave the 15-day ultimatum in a letter dated Friday 28th August which was addressed to the Minister of Health.

The letter, signed by the President of JOHESU, Comrade Joy Josiah, was copied to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS), President of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and that of the Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The union referred to its various correspondences on the plight of health workers, saying the federal government had not deemed it fit to honour the terms of settlement entered into with JOHESU on 30th September, 2017, especially the upward review of CONHESS Salary Structure as agreed, to be completed within five (5) weeks from the date of agreement (30/09/2017) amongst other requests.

“This is both distasteful and condemnable because it is three (3) whooping years after the conclusion of this agreement,” the letter added.

The union recalled that in a meeting with JOHESU and the Minister on Wednesday, 1st July, 2020, it was agreed that a mistake was made by government in the implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard allowance.

It stated that, up till the time of this letter, the shortfall had not been paid.

The letter added: “To make matters worse, when the payment for June, 2020 was made, Government decided to again pay 10% of Consolidated Basic to our members.

“This is in contravention of the spirit and content of the MoU signed on 21st April, 2020.

“Consequently, JOHESU is constrained to give the Federal Government 15 days ultimatum with effect from midnight Sunday, 30th August, 2020 and to inform you that with effect from midnight of Sunday, 13th September, 2020, all our members in the Federal Tertiary Health Institutions shall embark on a strike action while State and Local Government health institutions are placed on red alert for possible entry into the fray if the Federal Government footdrags in attending to our demands.”

JOHESU said it had always “exhibited maturity, selflessness and patriotism even in the face of extreme provocations and government’s non-challant attitude to the welfare of our members and we think that our maturity and selflessness have been taken for granted.

“This 15 days ultimatum is necessitated by the nonchalant and lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Government to the plight of our members, in spite of our benevolence and long notice given on these issues.”

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