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Court order: JOHESU yet to suspend strike, vows to continue action

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Over 24 hours after the National Industrial Court ordered members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to call off their strike and resume work within 24 hours, the union members are yet to resume duties in Lagos State and across the country.

The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja had given an order of interim injunction compelling the striking members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to immediately resume duties at the various health institutions across Nigeria within 24 hours and the federal government to put in place a reconciliatory process towards putting an end to the strike.

This is just as the National Chairman of JOHESU, Mr. Josiah Biobebelemoye, denied knowledge of the judgment, saying as far as the union was concerned, the said judgment was a rumour, as JOHESU had not been served any papers to that effect, vowing to continue with its ongoing strike until their demands are met.

The union accused the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, of being insincere and discriminatory in the negotiations between it and government, thereby urging President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly intervene to bring an end to the crisis.

In a chat with The Guardian yesterday, Biobelemoye said during the negotiations, the minister offered 25 per cent increment to the union, which JOHESU rejected and instead gave three options to government.

He said: “Instead of working with the three options we gave, government went back to 15 per cent. Government is not sincere.

This strike is avoidable, but government refused to avert it. The issues are supposed to be resolved within five weeks, but for the sake of the people, we waited for six months.

The onus is on government to consider the plight of our people and resolve the issues.”

Meanwhile, the minister yesterday said government had already put in place a reconciliatory process towards amicable settlement of the trade dispute between it and JOHESU. 

Adewole, in a statement signed by the Director, Media and Public Relations in the ministry, Mrs. Boade Akinola, said the federal government negotiating team side waited for six hours on Thursday, May 17 for JOHESU’s representatives to continue with the jointly agreed meeting, which JOHESU boycotted.
 
The minister noted that shortly after the adjournment of the boycotted meeting, an official communication, titled: “Collapse of negotiation between the federal government and joint health sector unions,” was issued by JOHESU, informing that negotiation with federal government had broken down.

Adewole maintained that the federal government had not reneged on its commitment to promote peace and harmony in the sector, but would engage in continuous dialogue on how to improve the sector.

The minister, who insisted that the federal government was open to negotiations on the demands of the union, requested members of the union to consider the plight of innocent Nigerians in need of health care and return to work while negotiation continues.

He directed the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) and Medical Directors (MDs) of tertiary hospitals to commence the process of documenting staff as they return to work and update the ministry accordingly.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a visit to most government-owned hospitals in Lagos metropolis and across the country indicated that only doctors were offering full medical services to patients.

At the General Hospital, Marina, Lagos, only doctors were on call duty, with no health workers on ground to attend to patients.

A patient, Lilian Okere, said it was family members that were helping to clean patients and the environment, adding that she could not be properly admitted into any ward because there was no health worker to take charge of that; hence she was still at the corridors in the Accident and Emergency Unit.

She appealed to JOHESU and the federal government to speedily resolve the ongoing standoff, as her life and those of other patients were at stake.

Only personnel of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) were seen at the hospital gates.

At the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja, only doctors and senior nurses were seen working.

Bayo Okunade, a patient, lamented that the incessant strikes in country’s health sector has become embarrassing, adding: “This shows the inefficiency and lack of seriousness in a sector that has to do with human lives. I urge both parties to please resolve the issues,’’ he said.

At the Amuwo Odofin Maternal and Child Care Centre, health workers were also not on ground, but a staff disclosed that skeletal services were being provided for emergency cases.

At the Maternal and Child Care Centre, Gbaja, Surulere, doctors were seen attending to patients, with a few health workers also offering skeletal services to emergency situations.

A mother who recently put to bed, Funmi Gbadebo, explained that she had registered at the facility, but when she went into labour on Sunday, the institution was not open to take her delivery.

“I went into labour around 12 midnight on Saturday and was rushed to Gbaja, where I had registered for ante-natal. But the security did not even allow me to enter the facility.


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