Health sector faces collapse as medical workers threaten strike
The whole spectrum of medical and health services may collapse in the next two weeks, if the Federal Government does not fulfil the terms of agreement it had with health and medical workers.
The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Association, yesterday, jointly issued the Federal Government a 15-day ultimatum to fulfil its side of the bargain or face a backlash.
In a strike notification letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), the unions informed of their intention to begin an indefinite industrial action over outstanding agreed welfare issues, yet to be implemented by Federal Government.
Aside Ngige, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President were also copied.
The workers said the welfare issues include adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHES), as was done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) since 2014, payment of all withheld April and May 2018 salaries of members and withheld salaries in Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, JUTH and LUTH, review of the defective implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance, implementation of National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), Consent judgment and other court judgments, increase in retirement age from 60 to 65 years for health workers and 70 years for Consultant health professionals.
Others are payment of reviewed hazard allowance in terms of payment that guarantees fairness and justice to all concerned and payment of actual 30 per cent consolidated basic shift duty allowance to Nurses/Midwives, payment of teaching allowance to members on CONHESS 7 and 8 (Nurses, Midwives and others) and proper placement of Nurse graduates and Interns.
Other issues listed include payment of outstanding salaries of intern health professionals and all the tertiary health institutions and proper implementation of the consultant pharmacist cadre for pharmacists in the public sector, among others.
The workers bemoaned government’s lackadaisical attitude to implementing agreements that are willingly entered into.
“Up till the time of writing this letter, the Federal Government has not deemed it fit to honour the Terms of Settlement entered into with JOHESU since September 2017, especially the upward review of CONHESS Salary Structure as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement amongst other requests. Government did not deem it fit to address these key issues during the duration of the last seven-day warning strike and only met with JOHESU on July 12.
“Indeed, in July 2020, the Minister of Health agreed that a mistake was made by government in the payment of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowances. The shortfall was in the payment of 50 per cent Basic of Consolidated allowances to all those health workers. He said the shortfall would be paid according to affected health workers.”
The unions observed that not only had the shortfall not been paid, but that when the payment for June 2020 was made, the government decided to again wrongfully pay 10 per cent of Consolidated Basic Allowances to their members affected by the shortfall of April and May 2020.
“This is in contravention of the spirit and content of the MoU signed on April 21, 2020,” the letter said. The labour unions said its action would begin at midnight of September 17, if its demands were not met before then.
The unions insisted that health and medical workers had shown maturity, selflessness and patriotism in the face of extreme provocations and government’s nonchalant attitude in addressing members’ welfare.
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