Health workers across the country have threatened to embark on an indefinite strike over the federal government’s failure to keep its promise of prompt payment of salary arrears and other allowances owed them.
The workers, under the aegis of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), issued the warning yesterday at the end of the 45th session of their National Executive Council (NEC) meeting in Abuja.
Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, President of the union, Josiah Biobelemoye, said government’s perennial failure to honour agreements entered with the union informed the resolution to shut down health facilities and embark on the industrial action any moment from yesterday.
Though Biobelomoye did not announce any date for the commencement of the strike, he urged the public to hold the government responsible for any inconvenience that may be experienced during the period.
He said: “Comrades, we have to prepare ourselves. We will no longer take that deceitful story of ‘there is no money.’
“It is our view that corruption cannot be fought when injustice is not addressed. If the same ministry of health can appropriate to pay illegal items such as skipping to the medical doctors who are not even entitled to such benefit, there is no reason they should tell us skipping allowance for other health workers has been abrogated.
“Can the Federal Executive Council quash the ruling of any court? The court has ruled that we should be paid skipping allowance. If the government believes in the rule of law, then it just has to pay us that money because it has paid those who are not even entitled to it.
“Although the Income and Wages Commission had advised that these people (doctors) are not entitled to this money, don’t pay them, they same government, the same ministry of health who claim there is no money to pay us still went ahead to pay them (doctors).
“Unless we agree to take our destiny in our hands, nobody in that ministry will give us what is due to us. We call on Nigerians to have this understanding with us when the time comes.”
Speaking also, the President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba , who is also a member of the union, called on health workers across the country to unite together in pursuit of a common interest.
He also condemned the idea of privatising the health sector by some Nigerians, describing the idea as anti-masses.
“Anybody that tells me that privatising the health care will make it better, it is false. What have become of the privatisation of the power sector? We have seen it as exploitation,” Wabba said.