By Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government yesterday secured an interim injunction compelling health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to end their indefinite strike and immediately resume work.
According to the Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Boade Akinola, the National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja gave the order restraining health workers from going on with the nationwide strike.
Akinola explained that the court gave the “order of interim Injunction compelling the striking members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) to immediately resume duty at the various health institutions across Nigeria and the federal government to put in place a reconciliatory process towards ending the strike.
“Reacting to the judgement, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole said that government had already put in place a reconciliatory process towards amicable settlement of the trade dispute between the FG and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).
He said the FG’s side waited for six hours yesterday May 17th, 2018 for JOHESU’s representatives to continue with the jointly agreed meeting which JOHESU boycotted.
Akinola further stated that “shortly after the adjournment of the boycotted meeting, an official communication titled: collapse of negotiation between the federal government and joint health sector unions was issued by JOHESU informing that negotiation with Federal government has broken down.
“The Minister however maintained that the FG had not reneged on its commitment to promote peace and harmony in the health sector but will engage in continuous dialogue on how to improve the sector.
“Adewole who said the FG is open to negotiations on the demands of the Union asked that members of the Union should consider the plight of innocent Nigerians in need of health care and return to work while negotiation continues.”
The minister also “directed the CMDs and MD’s of tertiary hospitals to commence the process of documenting staff as they return to work and update the Ministry according.”
But speaking to THISDAY, JOHESU Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah denied knowledge of any interim injunction from the National Industrial Court.
Josiah maintained that given the health minister, Prof. Adewole, Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige and the All Progressives Congress (APC) led government penchant for disobeying court orders, the National Industrial Court would not be that hasty to issue such an order.
He said: “We don’t have notice to that, we have not been served. We are just hearing it as rumour. I don’t even know whether the Minister of Health and Minister of Labour have the moral status to go to court and demand that.
“Because they have disobeyed about eight court orders from the same court. These are people who don’t obey court orders,” he added.
Josiah stressed that the greatest challenge had been the dishonesty on the part of the federal government’s delegation in the negotiations led by Adewole.