Government, health workers resume negotiations over strike
Industrial dispute paralyses hospitals
The Federal Government and striking health workers are scheduled to resume negotiations today over the industrial action that has paralyzed the health sector.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who confirmed the meeting in Abuja yesterday, explained that the health workers under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) did not follow the right channels in presenting their grievances to the Federal Government.
His words: “I wish to place on record that JOHESU had wrongly issued a seven-day strike ultimatum on September 14, 2017 instead of the mandatory 15-day notice the law requires of those on essential duties. The body took another wrong step by routing its notice of action to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) instead of the Labour and Employment Minister whom JOHESU is fully aware is empowered by the Section 5 (6) of the Trade Dispute Act 2004 to apprehend such dispute within the time frame of notice and effect conciliation thereafter.
“Further, it is regrettable that the invitation extended to JOHESU by the Minister of Labour and Employment under the provision of this law for a meeting on Thursday, September 21, 2017 was not honoured because JOHESU wanted to call out the member unions on strike, thereby disrupting services in these health institutions. For the avoidance of doubt however, another conciliatory meeting has been fixed for Tuesday, September 26, 2017 by 2:00 p.m.”
The Minister, while appealing to the health workers to suspend their strike, hinted that government is already addressing issues they raised in their letter such as payment of shortfalls of salaries, promotion arrears, repatriation allowances among others.
Meanwhile, the lingering strike has grounded activities at federal hospital across the nation.
At the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, members complied while skeletal services are been offered at the Accident and Emergency Wards while patients are also been discharged.
Chairman, JOHESU, LUTH chapter, Mr. Shaba Adetokunbo, said the strike is very effective, as members complied with the directives from the national body.
He called on the government to do the needful so as to curtail the dangers and effects of the industrial action.
Also, the Chairman of JOHESU, Biobelemoye Josiah, has alleged that the Chairman of Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, Fidelis Ogobor was assaulted by the Chairman of the hospital’s Medical Advisory Committee, Dr. Wilson Ovienria, last Friday, while leading a monitoring team to check compliance of workers to the strike called by the national body.
JOHESU called on the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, to warn doctors to be mindful of provoking its members who have remained calm since the beginning of the strike and will remain so, while waiting patiently for government to do the needful.
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