Unions of workers in federal government owned public hospitals across Nigeria under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, say they will not call off the strike they are currently embarking on until the government meets their demands.
Disclosing this at an interview with newsmen today, General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Mr. Obisesan Oluwatuyi, said, “The soldiers have been let loose, no retreat, and no surrender until the government does the needful”.
The Union had earlier said it will embark on a nationwide indefinite strike beginning from midnight, Tuesday, April 17 to protest failure by the federal government to meet their various demands.
The President of JOHESU, Mr. Josiah Biobelemoye, who issued the strike notice on Monday accused the government of displaying what he described as “insensitivity and lackadaisical attitude to the drivers of the health sector’’.
He listed the demands of JOHESU to include upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Scale, arrears of skipping of CONHESS 10 and employment of additional health professionals, the president directed all members of the union to commence the strike at the midnight of April 17, 2018.
The other demands are the implementation of court judgments and upward review of retirement age of health workers from 60 to 65 years.
The union had suspended its last nationwide strike on Sept. 30, last year, after signing a Memorandum of Terms of Settlement (MOTS), with the federal government.
The MOTS was supposed to be implemented within five weeks. But the workers said the government has failed to act on its six months after.
JOHESU President said the union members as peace lovers pointed out that the union had earlier given the Federal government a 21 days ultimatum from Feb. 5 for the fulfillment of the terms of the agreement and an additional 30 working days after the expiration of the ultimatum issued on Feb 5.
He lamented that government has failed to utilize the various opportunities to fulfill the terms of the agreement it signed with the union.
“It is disheartening to note that after six months of suspension of our last strike and still counting, the Federal Government has not done anything tangible over pending issues especially on the flagship issue of CONHESS adjustment and payment of arrears of CONHESS 10 skipping.
“JOHESU as a mature and responsible organization gave 21 days’ notice on Feb. 5, this year, in the first instance to enable the Federal Government to do the needful.
“At the expiration of the 21 days’ notice, the leadership of JOHESU reconvened to re-appraise the situation on the ground and noted the lackadaisical attitude of the government toward the implementation of the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement signed on Sept. 30.
“On April 5, 2018, the Minister of Labour and Employment invited the leadership of JOHESU for a meeting wherein we were told that our issues were still being looked into, this shows that government is taking JOHESU for a ride,’’ said the union president.
Biobelemoye also asked members of the union at the states and local government-owned health institutions to prepare their members for possible solidarity strike, if the government failed to attend to their demands.
He also called on well-meaning Nigerians including traditional leaders, elder statesmen, opinion leaders and the general public to prevail on government to implement MOTS entered into with JOHESU on Sept. 30, 2017.
Explaining that JOHESU members were not clamoring for equality with doctors, but equity and justice, the union president advised medical doctors and the Federal Ministry of Health to change their perception of the demands.
JOHESU membership includes the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN), and Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals.
Others are Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals and Non-academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutes.