By CHIOMA OBINNA
As the nationwide strike embarked upon by Federal health workers under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, enters its second week, the Nigeria Medical Association, NMA, yesterday, threatened to embark on an indefinite strike should the Federal Government bow to what it described as “illegitimate and unjustifiable demands” of the striking workers.
The doctors questioned the basis of government’s engagement with JOHESU rather than the recognised unions and associations in the health sector on the skipping of Consolidated Health Salary Scale, CONHESS 10.
NMA National President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele and the General Secretary, Dr. A.L. Pemu, expressed shock and disappointment that members of JOHESU/Allied health professionals are demanding to continue in acts “reminiscent of stealing from government by threatening and blackmailing government to allow them jump a whole grade level in the public service.”
According to them, there was no verifiable or justifiable reason to warrant what they called “immoral concession.”
They maintained that: “If government succumbs to this threat and blackmail by allowing the Allied Health Professionals to skip a grade level even against the circular earlier issued by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation outlawing skipping in the civil service then government must also allow skipping of grade level not just for doctors, but for the Federal Civil Service workforce.”
They further argued that if the government should accede to the demands, then the government would have to elongate the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, for medical/dental practitioners.
in addition to re-introducing the Medical Salary Super Scale (MSSS)/Salary Structure for doctors.
“This is the only way the NMA can accept any immoral skipping of salary grade level by the Allied Health Professionals. Anything to the contrary may trigger a full scale industrial action by medical and dental practitioners in public institutions in Nigeria. We therefore wish to bring the attention of government to this possible outcome of acceding to the illegitimate demand of JOHESU.
On other demands of the workers, the doctors said: the craze by every health worker group/Allied Health Professionals to be designated as Consultant calls for a serious rethink on the part of government on how it got to this point of inducing this type of inordinate demands within its system.
They further explained that the term ‘Consultant’ as used in the healthcare system is not an appellation for collecting allowances as JOHESU seem to believe.
Continuing, they posited that in as much as the association recognises the right of any group of workers to demand for improved conditions of service, “it rejects and oppose any form of blackmail, deceit, injustice, discrimination and practice that is against global best practices as currently being championed by JOHESU.”
“We would not allow our patients to be hurt, deceived, confused or exploited.”
The NMA demanded that Allied Health Professionals/Paramedics should choose for once whether to belong to their individual unions/associations or stay with an amorphous amalgam which JOHESU represents.
They further urged all medical/dental practitioners in public hospitals to remain at their duty posts and sustain healthcare services in government hospitals in order to mitigate the hardship caused Nigerians by this ill-motivated strike action of JOHESU even as they called on JOHESU to have a re-think and call off its strike in the interest of professionalism, peace and progress in Nigeria’s Health Sector..