â€¢ Ministry, union meet today to bring strike to an end
By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole,Â has maintained that there is no existing agreement between the federal government and the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Heathcare Professionals (JOHESU) during the former President Goodluck Jonathanâ€™s administration.
Adewole in a statement issued yesterday by the Assistant Director of Information, Ministry of Health, Mr. Olajide Oshundun, made the clarification in response to media publication where the striking health workers lampooned the minister for denyingÂ the existence of an agreement between the federal government and JOHESU in 2014.
The minister had in a exclusive interview with THISDAY, stressed that contrary to claims, the union only had minutes of the meeting with previous administration and not a valid agreement.
He said the response is to correct what he described as â€œmisinformation being fed to the public by JOHESU and also to inform the public of efforts being made by the federal government in order to avoid incessant strike in the health sector.â€
Adewole while noting that the current strike is unfortunate as the health and wellbeing of many Nigerians have been affected, insisted: â€œThat there was no agreementÂ between the federal government and JOHESU prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.â€
He said: â€œThat what JOHESU brandish as 2014 agreement were minutes of meetings they had with the organs of federal government.
â€œThat in September 2017, JOHESU presented 15-point demand and the federal government has implemented 14 while the last demand is still been attended to by the high level body set up by the government to look into its implementation.
â€œIndeed, what the September 2017 agreement stated under the upward adjustment of CONHESSÂ salary scale and as published by JOHESU is that: â€˜The meeting noted that two different figures had been submitted to the National Salaries and Wages Commission on separate occasions. It was observed that the figures are no longer realistic due to lapse of time. The NSIWC should therefore do a fresh submission based on new data consistent with the present reality. The FMOH is expected to make available necessary and required data to NSIWC to enable fresh computation. The newly computed figures will be forwarded by National Salaries and Wages Commission to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission for processing to the high level body (HLB), of the government and thereafter to Federal Ministry of Health within five weeks.â€™Â This has not been done,â€ he stated.
According to Adewole,Â the government would do everything within its power to bring the ongoing strike action to an end as quickly as possible.
He promised that the federal government has put machinery in place to ensure that the strike is called off by meeting with JOHESU officials on several occasions.
The minister noted that an offer has been made to adjust the salaries and wages of JOHESU members by the federal government.
But he said what JOHESU is asking for is parity with medical doctors which is not practicable nor acceptable to the federal government.
â€œA cursory look at the salary tables in the health sector before and after Independence till date have always reflected Relativity .
â€œThe 2014 salary adjustment for medical doctors was to correct the anomaly of 2009 and restore relativity,â€ he added.
Adeowole said that the meeting with JOHESU would reconvene today to find an amicable resolution to the issue.
He however,Â appealled to JOHESU to immediately call off the strike and allow the High Level Body to conclude its assignment as contained in the 2017 agreement.
The minister further assured that the â€œadministration of President Muhammadu Buhari will not renege on any agreement entered into with any labour organisation including JOHESU.
He also appealed to the public to bear with the federal government as all hands are on the table to bring the ongoing strike to an end as quickly as possible.