Several Nigerian health professionals may embark on nationwide strike
Hospitals and other medical facilities across Nigeria may be shut if the plans of health workers in Nigeria falls through. The health professionals under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have expressed their intention to embark on another round of strike action over the inability of Nigerian government to implement several agreements it reached with the workers.
In a communique issued in Abuja and signed by JOHESU President, Biobelemoye Joshua, the union said government approach in addressing its demands had not been forthcoming over a period of time.
He said: “Knowing and acknowledging that government is a continuum, and having gone into series of agreements with the government of President Goodluck Jonathan coupled with several court judgments in favour of JOHESU and AHPA which was neither implemented nor honoured, JOHESU is peeved that government should flout court orders and fail to honour collectively bargained agreements willingly entered into.
“Honouring collective bargaining agreements and adhering to court orders is supposed to give confidence to the system. It is our hope that confidence in collective bargaining agreements will not be destroyed by the actions of government. “Consequent upon the suspension of JOHESU/AHPA strike on February 2, 2015, and subsequent meetings held at the levels of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and the immediate past president on the underlisted issues without any resolution; and bearing in mind that the leadership of JOHESU/AHPA has exercised enough restraints, and our members have been patient enough with the federal government on the issues at stake; it is important we put on record that all our demands that led to the strike are still pending which still makes our members restive.
Joshua added: “Implementation of the spirit of the new circular on promotion of our members from CONHESS 14 to 15 as directors which places premium on the need to sanction defaulting hospital managements remains crucial to industrial harmony within the sector.”
JOHESU said specific steps must be taken by the Head of Service of the Federation to ensure the expedited issuance of an enabling circular authorising consultancy cadre for health professionals that have adhered to due process, to be vested with consultancy status as a prelude to including this cadre into the schemes of service of these health professionals.
The union added: “Payment of arrears of specialist allowances to qualified hospitals based health professionals with effect from January 1, 2010, should be ensured without any delay whatsoever.
“Flowing from two and three above, JOHESU strongly demands that the Federal Ministry of Health must now come up with a circular on residency programmes for all health professionals in Nigeria to ensure professional capacity development in the health sector. This will strengthen our national health system and stem medical tourism.” Their demands also include “immediate and full payment of arrears of the skipping of CONHESS 10 which remains outstanding since the year 2010.
“Immediate and unconditional release of the circular on adjustment of salary since January 2014 and immediate payment of at least 2 months arrears, while the balance is accommodated with proven evidence in the 2016 budget.”
JOHESU also tasked the government to sponsor “an amendment bill to correct once and for all the litany of contentious provisions in the obnoxious decree 10 of 1985 (CAP U15 463) LFN 2004 which formalizes the marginalisation of all health workers by Doctors in the following areas.”
On the next line of action, they maintained that “in view of the failure of the present federal government to accede to our demands as itemised above, JOHESU and AHPA at their joint meeting, held on January 27, 2016, at the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria Secretariat, Abuja, resolved to give a 15-day ultimatum beginning from February 3, 2016.
“It is our hope and desire that the federal government would take necessary steps to ensure that our demands are met on or before February 17, 2016 in order to forestall the impending avoidable industrial action,” they stressed.