By Chioma Obinna
Health workers under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, and the National Association of Allied Health Professionals, NUAHP, yesterday vowed to embark on an indefinite nationwide strike should government fail to meet their demands by 30th, September 2017.
In a statement made available to Vanguard and jointly signed by the National President, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna and its National General Secretary, Com. O.A Obisessan, the unions claimed that the ultimatum earlier issued to the government is expected to elapse on the 12th of September, 2017.
The duo, who accused the Health and Labour ministries of conspiracy against the unions, declared that the unions were not considering resuming strike immediate due to mobilization factors and the need to give the Government further room to address their demands.
“Come 30th September, 2017, if the Government refuses to meet our demands, the unions will have no other option than to shut down health care services nationwide”, the unions said.
In their 23- point demands, the unions are demanding the revamping of infrastructure in the tertiary health institutions; implement the report of the inter-ministerial sub-committee on critical matters in the health sector as well as addressing issues such as professional autonomy.
The Unions also want the government to address the issue of headship of departments/units in hospitals, enhanced entry point (EEP) for medical laboratory scientists and radiographers, non- payment of backlog of arrears, residency training for other health professionals, appointments of consultants and payment of specialist allowance, and post of surgeon general.
Others are; implementation of National health act, retirement age for teaching hospital staff, abolition of the position on Deputy Chairman Medical Advisory Committee DCMAC, skipping of CONHESS 10 and payment of arrears in compliance with National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) judgment, adjustment of the CONHESS salary structure, stagnation and nomenclature, AMLSN/BMLS issues in UCH, and the appointment of other health professionals as consultants and payment of the specialist allowance.
They are also demanding the appointment of CMDs/MDs of tertiary hospitals in accordance with the extant laws, honouring collectively bargained agreements, call duty allowances for health information managers and dieticians and others, sabbatical leave/annual leave, pension arrears and taxation.
They further said, “We also want the government to address the discriminatory attitudes by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Labour to other Health care Professionals. We have observed the wrong and selfish interpretation of Decree 10 of 1985 the law that governs our teaching hospitals since 1985 till date; the refusal to honour and implement collectively bargained agreement since 2009, the refusal to honour Industrial Arbitration Panel and National Industrial Court Awards/Judgements, and introduction of Partisan and discriminatory remuneration packages in favour of medical practitioners.”
They also accused the government of favouring members of NMA by making them minister since 1999 to date.
They said with myriads of crisis, it is strongly canvassed that in appointing a new minister of health, appointing members of Allied Health Professionals as the head of the ministry for balancing, harmony, social justice, peace and all round development will be ideal.
They pointed out that the Abudullahi Bello Presidential Committee’s report on a harmonious work relationship amongst health workers and Professional groups in the health sector in October 2011, had made a similar recommendation.
Government must address non – circularization and implementation of adjusted CONHESS Salary Structure as done for NMA. The non – circularization and implementation of the adjusted CONHESS salary structure as done for our NMA counterparts in the same sector is generating a lot of agitations in the system.
“We therefore urge well- meaning Nigerians, the Royal fathers and the press to intervene and prevail on Government to implement all agreements and memorandum of understanding reached with NUAHP/JOHESU on or before the expiration of the ultimatum to avert the looming industrial action.