Workers vow to reject privatisation of public health institutions
• Protests paralysis services at UATH
Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has rejected moves by the Federal Government to privatise public health institutions.National chairman of JOHESU, Josiah Biobelemoye who spoke during a mass rally against developments in the health sector in Abuja, listed corruption and lack of fair management as the main challenges inhibiting effective health care delivery in the country.
The workers, who staged a three-day rally over the plights of JOHESU members, flayed the Minister of health, Professor Isaac Oyewole for withholding workers salaries for the months of April and May 2018.He said the workers would not hesitate to shut down the sector, should nothing happen after the rally by the workers.
While seeking President Buhari’s intervention into the industrial dispute, Biobelemoye alleged that over 90 per cent of Chief Medical Directors of public institutions have their private hospitals.He said such practice leads to the rots in the system due to clash of interest.He stressed that the rallies were meant to sensitise the public to their plights and to disabuse the minds of Nigerians who generally believe the union is a strike-monger.
He explained: “We are here today to sensitise the general public on the happenings in the health sector. We want the world to know that the Minister of Health Professor Adewole has refused to release our April and May 2018 salaries despite a court order.“While the court asked both parties nor to do anything that can jeopardize the peace process, the Minister went ahead to implement no work no pay”.He further asked Nigerians to hold the Minister responsible should anything go wrong in the sector.
The three-day rallies paralysed medical services at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Gwagwalada. The health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH) branch, said they have been neglected in the welfare package of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Chairman of JOHESU, UATH branch, Stephen Oricha told The Guardian after their third day protest rally that the Federal Government does not regard any other health workers other than the medical doctors.
According to Oricha, the decision to embark on the rally was to sensitise the Health Minister and the Federal Government on the looming danger should it decline to adhere to the court decision and that of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) where 15 of 17 of their demands were upheld.
He however expressed the fear that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole and Labour Minister, Dr Chris Ngige who are the three key figures that are supposed to take decision are medical doctors and must have silently conspired to frustrate the efforts of other health workers. Oricha stated that until the adjustment of CONHESS is made, the peaceful resolution might not be in sight.
“Since 2014 to 2018, series of negotiations and agreements have been reached without the government complying. Instead, the government through a pseudo organisation in 2018, took JOHESU to court to suspend the industrial action we had embarked upon. The court asked us to suspend the action and maintain the status quo. We complied by returning to duty, and the government in her characteristics manner, declined the court decisions, and withheld our salaries for the months of April and May 2018”, Oricha said.
He, however stressed that the leaderships of various health workers unions would go to the drawing table to fashion out the next line of action, as he pointed out that the masses would be made to bear the course of a full scale strike action.
He explained: “We are very mindful of the untold pains the masses will go through by the time we embark on a full scale industrial action. But should the government continue to frustrate our demand, we may not have other option than to do the needful. We are waiting for directives from our national body on the next line of action.”