The Federal Government is taking a move to address the issue of incessant strikes by Medical Workers; as the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, promised on Friday that the government will consider their requests.
Specifically, the minister said the Ministry will look at the issue of their welfare; and give it a due attention and consideration.
Speaking at a Public lecture to mark the 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN); titled: “Industrial Relations in Nigeria Today, Challenges and Prospects,” Prof. Adewole, advised the medical workers to always adopt dialogue in resolving their issues rather than resulting in protests and strikes.
The Minister of Health, who was represented by Deputy Director, Department of Hospital Services, Mrs Uloma Nbanaso; congratulated the union on the 40th anniversary.
‘I recommend dialogue as a way you can always find solutions to every one of your problems and that will help the country to get the best health services,” he said.
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He assured that the ministry will always consider their request and especially their welfare, adding that they are partners in progress.
The minister commended the union’s unity and assured them that the ministry would continue to offer advice to them when the need arises.
He commiserated with the union on the death of some of their workers in the North East.
The President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Com. Ayuba Waba in his remarks appreciated the union for their contributions to the NLC and the Labour movement in Nigeria.
He commended the Union for keeping to the agreement to make the NLC independent, adding that the contribution of the medical workers to the growth of unionism in the country cannot be overemphasised.
On the issue of workers’ welfare, Wabba pointed out that workers are not slaves, and that the era of master and servant relationship have come and gone with the colonial masters.
He also added that workers are the ones creating the wealth that the politicians are feasting on, hence their rights should be respected.
The NLC President explained that even in the best economies, workers do go for strike; citing example of France.
He also said health care is a fundamental human right, adding, “you need to be healthy to go to school; the key parameters to measure development, four of them are in health.”
He frowned at the situation whereby the government deliberately placed one group in the health sector above the other, thereby giving the impression that one group is better than the other.
Citing an example of the United States of America, Wabba stated that a nurse or a doctor is paid based on the number of hours they are on duty but this is fixed in Nigeria.
To him, it is pure injustice to say that just because you work as a doctor, your salary should be this, and as a nurse, your salary should be this, and below, without giving due consideration to the hours you put on the job and your contribution.
Wabba, who was the immediate past President of MHWUN thanked the workers for giving him the opportunity to serve and promised that he would never deviate from the working class ideology.
On the minimum wage, he said nothing has been done by the government but added that they would not relent.