The Joint Health Sector Union and Assembly of Health Care Professionals (JOHESU) has told the Federal Government that it can no longer guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the health sector.
JOHESU has, therefore, threatened to embark on strike if their long list of demands which include immediate payment of COVID-19 special incentives and hazard/inducement allowance; implementation of COVID-19 insurance cover for all health workers; and the payments of April/May, 2018 and other withheld salaries of their members in FMC, Owerri, LUTH and JUTH are not attended to.
This will invariably see the Nurses, Laboratory scientists, pharmacists, technicians, and other health workers embark on a nationwide strike.
JOHESU is made up of five different unions, such as medical and health workers (MHWUN), Nigeria nurses and midwives (NANNM), research institutes senior staffs (SSAUTHRIAM) allied health professionals (NUAHP) and non-academic staffs (NASU).
In series of letters written to the Minister of Health and copied the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, JOHESU said their long wait and patience has been grossly abused by the government who has classified them as “second class citizens.”
The union’s recent decision was triggered by the recent approval of N4 billion by the government yo meet the demands of the doctors, under the National Association of Residence Doctors (NARD).
Following the approval of this fund for NARD, JOHESU said in the letters signed by its National Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah and the Nation Secretary, Matthew Ajorutu, that its leadership has been under intense pressure from the workers.
The letter said: “The Federal Government approval of N4 billion to meet NARD demands has further made naked the classification of JOHESU as second class citizens and this singular action has further put JOHESU Leadership under extreme and intense pressure from our members.
“The elasticity of our members is at a breakpoint and we can no longer guarantee industrial peace and harmony in the health sector because our members are restive since the Federal Government approval to NARD.
“Arising from the forgoing, the issue put on hold until post COVID-19 pandemic is no longer tenable nor sellable to our restive members in the face of glaring discrimination by the Federal Ministry of Health, which always plead with JOHESU for understanding due to paucity of funds.”
The letter also read: ”We are constrained to inform you that JOHESU can no longer wait till after the COVID-19 pandemic before the withheld salaries and adjustment of CONHESS that has lingered since 2014 could be paid.
“Our constrain is borne out of the approval of N4 bullion for the payment of 2017 allowances to NARD while JOHESU members genuine demand for upward adjustment of CONHESS and payment of withheld salaries were not given considerable ears under the premise of lack of money is no longer sellable to our members.”
Also, a letter dated 15 June, 2020, and titled: “Re: Payment of inducement and Hazard allowances,” JOHESU called on the government to keep to the agreement as emphasised and signed in the meeting held on Monday 8 June, 2020, on the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the office of Minister of Labour.
The letter also said: “Your immediate issuance of another circular in the spirit of the content and context of the MoU agreed to on Tuesday, 21 April, 2020 shall go a long way in dousing tension in the workplace at all health facilities nationwide.,”
Also, an earlier letter dated 8 June, 2020, JOHESU said: “We have just been reliably informed that the Federal Government has released N4 billion for the payment of 2017 Internship allowance to members of NARD. We wish to use this medium to request the minister to use his good offices to extend this same gesture for the training of other health workers who are on Internship, like the Pharmacist, Nurses, Medical Laboratory scientists e.t.c.”