The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) has called for a more reliable and accommodating template for the structuring of hazard allowance for health workers in the post-COVID-19 era.
A statement signed and made available the Chairman of the union, Joy Bio Josiah, also urged the federal government to be dispassionate in the approval and disbursement of wages to health workers in Nigeria describing it as the only panacea on any vicious cicle of industrial disharmony in the sector.
Last month, the federal governments facilitated a temporary Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with some Health Sector Professional bodies based on a proposal tabled principally by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) which brought in some of its affiliate professional Associations on the table.
According to the statement, JOHESU which was not originally slated to be a part of the meeting was invited to the latter stages of the deliberation which was to sign an already formulated MOU by the NMA
It frowned at NMA decision to present selective list of Health workers who will benefit from COVID-19 hazard allowances insisting that the entire value chain of health workers including non- clinical staff must be beneficiaries of the hazard allowances.
The release also observed that not all doctors were equally exposed to the air, surfaces and persons carrying Coronavirus and therefore demanded equal pay per hour.
“When you are present for a number of hours, you are paid, when you are absent, you are not paid. As it is now, the ‘top’ and senior doctors staying at home are getting the highest allowances.
“An equal life insurance for every practitioner is the ideal thing. Everybody should be equal appreciated equally.
The attackers and goal scorers in football matches are not isolated for praise, the whole team wins and are equally appreciated. You do not single out health professionals, you call them all Healthcare workers,” it added.
The release further alleged that NMA, aimed to structure a continued dominance as well as create new exclusive benefit packages for its members and claimed that the professional Associations that teamed-up with NMA were not aware of the details of the meeting like JOHESU.
“Some other highlights of the NMA catalysed MOU that was fundamentally flawed was the decision to review the JOHESU-driven increase of the retirement age of Health workers from 60 years to 65 years with an amplification that now provides that Medical Doctors on the Consultant Cadre can now retire at the age of 70 years.
“This desire of the NMA should not be allowed to truncate the clamour of JOHESU in this regards for the last seven years. As it stands today, the NICN has given a consent judgement on the increase of the retirement age of Health workers from 60 years to 65 years, so this temporary MOU which should subsist for only three months shouldn’t indeed become a nullity in the overall professional and public interest of consumers of Health in Nigeria.
“The NMA has tied payment of Hazard Allowances to basic salary. Doctors’ basic salaries are relatively higher than anyone else’s, but hazard is not supposed to be tied to how much you earn.” The peculiar job, atmosphere, length of exposure among others should be the determinant factors, not salary level. Each cadre of healthcare worker has peculiar risks. In the same cadre, the seniors may be less exposed, but they get higher pay if this unorthodox method is used. The junior Doctors are much more exposed to environmental hazards than the senior ones, but are paid less”.
“If the dentist has no dental case needing his attention, he shouldn’t be paid for doing nothing and staying home. Why must such a dental or medical personnel get paid higher than Nurses working 24-hour shifts and the Pharmacists or other health professional on call for 24 hours.
“It therefore maintained that everybody should be paid equally, depending on length of time at work, adding “lf I am the H.O.D but not physically at work, I shouldn’t be paid. If I am junior, I should earn more than my boss who doesn’t sleep in the polluted atmosphere at work like me.”
Maintaining that hazard could not be tied to salary level or seniority, the statement explained that Coronaviruses are in the air and surfaces and that everyone in the vicinity including hospital, isolation centre are equally exposed.
Not all doctors are equally exposed to the air, surfaces and persons carrying coronavirus, but for as it is now, being a doctor qualifies you for the highest pay. Even dentists having no dental case are enjoying free undeserved booties. That is discrimination against the rest.
“The Pharmacist, Laboratory Scientist, Cleaner, Nurse, Front Desk Officer, Record, Administrator and Security Officers, Engineering, Mortuary and all other staff are exposed even when patients’ statuses are not confirmed.
Threat to life on exposure takes no discriminatory progress. Profession, status and class have no effect on them. No life is more valuable than the other”.