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Health workers shelve planned strike as NMA opposes parity in hazard allowance

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JOHESU, FG for new MOU, PFN urges emergency declaration
Health and medical workers have shelved their planned industrial action on the backdrop of a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU). They are to sign another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with government next week on modalities for implementing their agreement.

Speaking after a conciliation meeting in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said all parties struck an understanding, including enhancement of hazard allowance, review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, arrears of national minimum wage consequential adjustments and upward review of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as done to the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).

The minister said they had no problem with the old issues, as the meeting agreed that the new ones should be channelled to the employer Federal Ministry of Health for deliberation.

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On the hazard allowance, Ngige recalled that the government held four meetings earlier with JOSEHU and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) alongside their affiliates, adding that at a point, there were areas of departure.

He noted that the NMA and a union hitherto thought to be part of JOHESU demanded compartmentalisation of the discussions, which government granted.

The former governor of Anambra State added that other contentious issues like the 30 per cent of shift duty allowance to nurses and others, payment of outstanding allowance to intern health professionals, payment of teaching allowance to JOHESU members on CONHESS 7 and 8, as well as skipping arrears, are to be expeditiously handled by the health ministry.

The minister noted that the resolution of issues affecting members in the state health institutions was for the Council on Health, adding that the health ministry had been directed to forward them accordingly.

He hinted that JOHESU would meet with the ministry tomorrow to draw up a framework for all discussions to start.

“We will be ready to address all the issues. But we agreed that as a result of the perilous state of the economy, the principle of capacity to pay will guide all our discussions,” Ngige stated.

In his remarks, JOHESU President, Bibielemoye Josiah, who pointed out that strike was not the way to go, expressed optimism that all issues raised by the unions would be positively attended to by agencies of government.

RELATEDLY, medical doctors have rejected equal hazard allowance with other employees in the healthcare industry.

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NMA President and Secretary General, Prof. Innocent Ujah and Dr. Philip Uche Ekpe, in a statement, yesterday, insisted that doctors would not earn same hazard perks with pharmacists, nurses, medical laboratory scientists, physiotherapists and other health workers because clinical conditions and infectious diseases such as Ebola, Lassa fever and COVID 19 have killed more doctors than any other health worker.

They said the duration of exposure of a medical doctor to a patient was at least three times that of any other health worker, with nurses coming second in order of degree of exposure to risks due to their shift duty scheme.

ALSO yesterday, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) urged the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to declare emergency on health and education and followed it up with summits to comprehensively address the challenges facing the two critical sectors.

In a statement by its National President, Bishop Wale Oke, the Christian body said the proposed events should galvanise the private sector, development partners, non-governmental organisations, labour unions, students and other interest groups to generate policy framework and legislations for immediate, long-term and lasting solutions to the problems in both sectors.

PFN deplored government’s handling of the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, cholera outbreaks and other health emergencies in the country.

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