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Health workers suspend six-week strike, laud Saraki’s intervention


Bukola Saraki

Employees, patients express joy
Health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions and Healthcare Professional Associations have suspended their six-week old industrial action. A communiqué issued at the end of their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting yesterday in Abuja said the strike was embarked upon on April 17, 2018 following the failure of the Federal Government to honour the agreement reached with the unions.
The unions, however, commended the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for playing a major role in the suspension of the strike action. Signed by the National Chairman of JOHESU, Biobelemoye Josiah and National Secretary, Ekpebor Florence, the communiqué reads in part: “The various gains from the meetings with His Excellency, the Senate President were presented to the NEC of JOHESU, after exhaustive deliberations and discussions, the NEC in session approved that the six weeks old strike be suspended this day, Thursday, May 31, 2018 because of the sympathy the unions have for the suffering Nigerian masses and also to pave way for further negotiations to continue on Monday June 4, 2018.”
JOHESU accused the government negotiation team of lacking seriousness, which reportedly led to the breakdown of further negotiations and the prolonged industrial dispute.The document added: “It is on record that it was during the period of the late James Ocholi (SAN) who was the chairman of the committee set up by Federal Ministry of Labour that JOHESU’s demands were sincerely and passionately looked into with a view to permanently resolving the issues amicably. But the expectation was short-lived due to the cold hands of death.  We salute his spirit and dedication to service of his fatherland.”
Meanwhile, the news of the suspension elicited jubilation among Nigerians yesterday. Patients and workers commended the leadership of JOHESU for taking what they described as a bold step to save lives. In a phone chat, a patient, Cynthia Uwakwe whose pregnancy has reached Expectant Delivery Date (EDD), expressed happiness over the new development.

According to her, she suffered severely during the strike period, as there was there was no nurse on duty to give advice.Also a sickle cell patient, Fatai Alao, who said he does not have money to patronise private hospitals, expressed gladness at the news.

In a similar vein, a worker with the Federal Medical Centre, Yaba, who craved anonymity, said she felt concerned seeing patients not being attending to while the strike lasted.The union’s vice president, Chimele Ogbonna further said they decided to suspend the strike to honour the NIC, by submitting itself to the mediation centre.

Prior to the suspension, A group, Incorporated Trustees of the Kingdom Human rights Foundation (KHRFI), had obtained a court order against JOHESU, mandating it to suspend the strike on May 21,2018. But, in pursuit of its constitutional rights to either comply or challenge the court order, JOHESU filed an appeal at the Appellate Court.

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Bukola Saraki
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