Health Workers Begin Nationwide Strike


By Onyebuchi Ezigbo

The Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals under the auspices of JOHESU have said that their members will commence a nationwide strike by midnight Sunday.

They said the strike is due to the failure of the federal government to meet their demands.

The leadership of JOHESU wrote the federal government at the weekend through the Ministry of Labour and Employment to inform the authorities of the decision of members to proceed with their planned strike by midnight Sunday.

The federal government and JOHESU had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) last Thursday on measures to resolve their grievances.

In the MoU signed between the government team and JOHESU, both sides agreed on modalities to sort out issues before the next meeting scheduled for September 15.

The MoU reads: “In view of this understanding, JOHESU will consult with her members with a view to reporting back on Saturday, 12th September, 2020. The meeting adjourns to 15th of October, 2020 to enable Federal Ministry of Health to carry out the assignments.

“Following the 15 days’ ultimatum given by JOHESU to commence an industrial action by midnight of Sunday September 13th, 2020, the Minister of Labour & Employment convened a conciliation meeting on Thursday, 10th September, 2020 with the leadership of JOHESU and relevant government stakeholders to address the issues.”

However, in the letter titled, “Notice of 15-day Ultimatum/outcome of JOHESU Expanded NEC Meeting”, it said: “You would recall that at the end of the meeting held in your office on Thursday, 10th September, 2020, JOHESU demanded that the outcome of the meeting between JOHESU and the federal government be reported back to our expanded NEC meeting and give a feedback to the federal government within 48 hours.

“In the light of the above, the meeting of our expanded NEC was held today, Saturday, 12th September, 2020. And at the end of the meeting, which was held both physically and virtually, it was unanimously agreed that since nothing concrete was achieved at the said meeting with the federal government, that the strike notice is still germane and alive.

“Therefore, the 15-day ultimatum still subsists and with effect from midnight of Sunday, 13th September, 2020, our members shall withdraw their services due to federal government’s inability to meet their demands.”

The President, Medical & Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Biobelemoye Joy Josiah and the Secretary General, Silas Adamu; President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), A. Adeniji and General Secretary, A. Shettima; President, Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes And Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), A. B. Akintola and General 5ecretary, Ezekiel Popoola; President, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAP), O. Ogbonna, and General Secretary, Martin Egbanubi; National President, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational & Associated Institutions (NASU), Hassan Makolo and General Secretary, Comrade Peter Adeyemi, signed the JOHESU strike notice.

The union had complained that many of its members were either omitted or short paid in the implementation of Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance as agreed in the MoU of 21st April, 2020.

According to JOHESU, some of their members were paid 10 per cent of their consolidated basic salary instead of 50 per cent in the MoU of April 2020, while others were omitted in the categories of those to benefit from the Special Covid-19 Hazard and Inducement allowance.

JOHESU added that in spite of several engagements with the Federal Ministry of Health, the anomalies are yet to be corrected as at Thursday, September 10, 2020.

The meeting agreed that the Federal Ministry of Health should issue a circular to the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) of the various health institutions by Friday, 11th September, 2020, and the CMDs should be requested to forward the list of members affected by the shortfall to the Federal Ministry of Health by Monday 14th of September, 2020.

JOHESU was also asked to mobilize their members in the local chapters of the tertiary health institutions to ensure that the CMDs forward the list of their members to the Federal Ministry of Health to facilitate the payment.

On the issue of medical personnel in the educational sector that were not captured in the first tranche of payments, the meeting noted that the omission was not peculiar to JOHESU members alone.

The minister informed them that he would consult with the relevant ministers on how to address the issue as clinics/hospitals under Federal Ministries of Education, Justice & Defence are all equally affected.

JOHESU made a request that all health workers who hitherto were being paid N5,000 as hazard allowance should be the beneficiaries of the 50 per cent of their consolidated basic salary as Special COVID-19 Hazard and inducement allowance, irrespective of whether they are or non-core medical professionals.

The ministry explained that the MoU of April 2020 in 1(d) was explicit on this.

However, the meeting agreed that the list of this category of workers should be compiled by the Federal Ministry of Health and the attendant financial implication should be computed by the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (AcGF) to see if the request can be accommodated within the available funds because they were not in the original classification for 50 per cent.

“Adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as was done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) since 2014: The meeting noted that this matter had been earlier referred to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) and is one of the issues that cannot be resolved by consensus at the ADR,” it said.