JOHESU (Joint Health Sector Unions) in the teaching hospitals and medical centres across the country yesterday directed its members to begin an indefinite strike.
JOHESU is made up of five registered unions. They are Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWU), Senior Staff Association of Research Institutes and Associated Institution (SSARIAI), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).
The union stated that the decision to call out their members for strike was based on the failure of the Federal government to implement all agreements, memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and court judgements.
The National Chairman of the union, Biobelemoye Josiah, while addressing newsmen in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital, asked the government to approve adjustment of CONHESS (Consolidated Health Salary Structure).
Mr Josiah urged members to hold rallies and meetings at all hospitals everyday.
He stated: “We once again appeal to the Federal government to tow the path of honour and implement all agreements, MoUs and court judgements while we urge our members at the tertiary health level to make the strike total and comprehensive .
He also stated that if an appreciable response is not received from government within 15 days of the strike by the federal tertiary health institutions, all members of the union at state and local government level nationwide will be directed to join the action by September 28.
“We call on well-meaning Nigerians to put pressure on the government to give into our demands, while we appeal to the Nigerian masses to bear with us in this struggle to improve health care services in country.”
Mr Josiah added that “series of MoUs, agreements and court cases which JOHESU and its unions won at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria were never implemented.
“JOHESU has been very patient with the federal government since 2012 and series of ultimatums were issued to draw the attention of the government to our plight but no commensurate attention was given, instead our demands were either jettisoned outright, treated with disdain, intimidated with court action or the quick application of no work no pay.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has expressed shock and surprise at the industrial action.
Adewole in a statement by the Assistant Director, Media and Public Relations, Mr. Olajide Oshundun, said the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment have had series of meeting with the leadership of JOHESU of which most of their demands had been met.
The minister listed some of these demands to include payment of promotion arrears that pre-dated President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said the other issues raised by JOHESU are still being deliberated upon with the leadership of the union.
To this end, Adewole appealed to the group and their conscience not to embark on strike in the interest of the generality of Nigerians especially the less privileged that might not be able to afford healthcare services in the private hospitals.
He promised that the government of President Buhari would continue to do everything humanly possible to guarantee quality and affordable healthcare delivery services to Nigerians .