The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) yesterday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the federal government to meet its demands.
The National Chairman of the union, Mr. Josiah Biobelemoye, stated this at a warning rally organised by the union in collaboration with the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC) among other stakeholders, to drive home the challenges bedeviling the health sector in Abuja.
Biobelemoye noted that the seven days ultimatum, effective from January 4, was given due to the intervention of clerics and their love for the Nigerian populace.
“We decided to seek God’s intervention by reporting our offenders to him. Last Friday we attended the Juma’at prayers while on Sunday we attended Church service.
“Fortunately and unfortunately, we met the Minister of Health in the church where we worshipped and the Overseer told him that he is in a better position to resolve this matter and allow the populace to receive better health.
“The cleric further pleaded with us to exercise some patience, hence we decided to give the seven-day ultimatum after which we will report to the NLC that decided to take over the matter,” Biobelemoye noted.
The chairman listed the demands of the union as unjustified withholding of the salaries of its members for April and May last year and upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Structure and headship of hospital departments.
Others, according to him, are implementation of consultancy cadre for JOHESU members and punitive actions against its members at Federal Medical Centre Owerri and Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).
Biobelemoye specifically noted that these demands were outside the ones under the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), adding that the rally was basically informed due to the violation of the May 30 court order by the Federal Ministry of Health.
According to him, the court ordered the union to suspend the action and also said no party should do anything that will jeopardise the peace in places of work.
He said: “While we are in the ARD discussing, the Federal Ministry of Health decided to indiscriminately implement no-work-no-pay after the court has said no one should do anything to provoke the other.
“We refused to take action for over seven months that they violated the court’s order because we are mindful of the fact that every strike affects the common man negatively.
“We know that public health institutions are the cheapest for the Nigerian populace so we were reluctant of embarking on strike for over seven months.
“We have used the means of dialogue to impress it on the federal ministry of health and its management that they are violating a court order but to no avail.
“We use this medium to tell Nigerians that have opportunity of interacting with those in authority specifically the minister of health to do the needful.”
Earlier, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, said he would map out actions to ensure the demand of over 90 per cent of the health work force was meant.
Wabba further noted that it would work out modalities to compel the minister of health to respect the collective agreement reached with the union.
He specifically quoted the National Industrial Court judgment as stipulating that no health worker should be denied of skipping work of his arrears and salary adjustment among others.
According to him, instead of obeying that judgment by paying the over 90 per cent workers their dues, the minister paid the medical doctors, which is unfair and unjust.
“We will mobilise Nigerian workers to battle, as collective bargaining agreement must be respected. He who comes to equity must come with clean hands,” Wabba said.