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Pharmacists, nurses, others begin indefinite strike today over welfare

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The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) are, today, embarking on an indefinite strike after a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet their demands.

Membership of both bodies constitutes 70 per cent of workers in hospitals, including pharmacists, nurses, medical laboratory scientists and physiotherapists.

The strikers are seeking a review of the “defective’’ implementation of the COVID-19 special inducement and hazard allowance, payment of all withheld salaries and adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as was done with the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) since 2014.

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Also, the groups called for the execution of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria consent judgment and other rulings. It was reliably gathered that the leadership of the health workers had on Friday met with government on the issue. After the meeting, the unions demanded to consult its members and report back to the Ministry of Labour and Employment on Saturday.

But in a statement yesterday, the medics said the strike would hold as planned, noting that it was necessitated by the alleged inability of the Federal Government to meet their demands.JOHESU president, Biobelemoye Josiah, confirmed the development.

According to the statement, leaders of various health unions in the sector unanimously took the decision at the end of their expanded National Executive Council (NEC) meeting.

The document noted: “In the light of the above, the meeting of our expanded NEC was held on Saturday, September 12, 2020. And at the end of the meeting, which was held both physically and virtually, it was unanimously agreed that since nothing concrete was achieved at the said meeting with the Federal Government, that the strike notice is still germane and alive.”

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“Therefore, the 15-day ultimatum still subsists and with effect from midnight of Sunday, September 13, 2020, our members shall withdraw their services due to Federal Government’s inability to meet their demands.”

In a to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Josiah lamented that the Federal Government had not deemed it fit to “honour the terms of settlement entered into with JOHESU on September 30, 2017, especially the upward review of CONHESS as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement (30/09/2017) among others requests.”

According to the labour leader, “it is both distasteful and condemnable because it is three whooping years after the conclusion of this agreement.”

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