By Luminous Jannamike
NIGERIA Labour Congress, NLC, has drawn a battle line with the Federal Ministry of Health over acts of discrimination and injustice against members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) allegedly perpetuated by the Minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole.
Leaders of NLC and other Labour leaders had Monday stormed the Ministry to protest the alleged unfair treatment of JOHESU member.
Speaking during the protest, NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, threatened that members of the Congress would occupy Adewole’s office and official residence indefinitely unless he rescinded some alleged hostile decisions the Ministry took against JOHESU members.
According to him, some of the perceived unjust decisions’ of the ministry under the Minister’s watch include; disrespect of court orders related to the dispute between the JOHESU and the Federal Government, the withholding of salaries of JOHESU members for the months of April and May 2018, the refusal to approve headship of hospital departments for other health professionals who are not medical doctors, the failure to upwardly adjust the CONHESS salary structure for workers in the health sector, and the non-implementation of consultancy cadre for health workers amongst others.
Wabba, who is the immediate past president of the Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), said; “This is just the beginning of the struggle. Get your mattresses and cooking pots ready. We’ll occupy both the Minister’s house and office until he sees reason to do justice and fairness in the health sector.
“We are going to deploy all the provisions of the labour laws to ensure we assert our rights and also demand that the court judgment particularly the NICN judgment must be respected. We must be paid what is due to us.
“Adewole cannot continue to perpetuate falsehood and think he’ll have peace. He can’t have peace because he has not accepted the fact that he is the minister of health and not only of medical doctors. Certainly, he can’t leave visible track records and succeed as a Minister of Health without a well-motivated workforce. How can he alienate 90% of health workers and claim he is doing the right thing.
“He took the unions to court and abandoned the court processes and other dispute resolution mechanisms put in place. He cannot have peace until he is ready to drop the steps he has taken which brought hardships and difficulties to many families of ordinary Nigerians.”
Similarly, Chairman of JOHESU, Josiah Biobelemoye, informed that the protest had nothing to do with the substance of any matter between the Unions and the government still pending in court.
He said; “The labour centres (NLC/TUC) have taken over the struggle from us. The dispute for which we are rallying here are not in court. We are rallying against the Ministry’s decision to violate the order of court. They took us to court through a mercenary and turned around to frustrate the court processes.”
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“We have been explaining to them, informing them that they are violating court order but they refused to obey or retrace their steps. Hence, we are having this rally. Recall that on 30, May 2018. When the court said we should suspend action and also ordered that no party should do anything that would jeopardize peace in the workplace. But while, we were in the ADR discussing, the Minister decided to discriminately and corruptly implement no work, no pay.
“We would have started occupying the Ministers’ office and home from today but because some clerics intervened and said we should give the Minister sometime to see what he would do. So, after this week, if nothing happens, we’ll return back to NLC and TUC for a full-blown and indefinite occupation of the Adewole’s office and home.”