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COVID-19: JOHESU warns against disparity in hazard allowances

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hazard allowances
JOHESU

Says action a recipe for another crisis in health sector

By Joseph Erunke

ABUJA-Health workers in the country under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, have warned against the disparity in hazard allowances for members.

President of JOHESU, Josiah Biobelemoye, speaking to newsmen, Wednesday, in Abuja, said the proposed action of the government was a recipe for another round of crisis in the health sector.

Biobelemoye expressed fear that unless the federal government handles the issue of COVID-19 special allowance for health workers with caution, it may spark another round of crisis in the health sector.

“Since hazard does not discriminate, therefore, the position of JOHESU is that hazard should be flat rate. Since it used to be N5000, they should just improve it and make it a flat rate.

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“Other allowances can vary but hazard allowance should be flat. This is because no causative agent will say this is a none professional, I will harm him less. Therefore, we are saying that the hazard allowance should be a flat rate,” He insisted.

He alleged that the Ministry of Health was making frantic efforts to distort the agreement earlier sign between the health professionals, unions, and the federal government regarding the development which had settled for payment based on percentage.

Hear him: “But now, even the percentage, we agreed that it should cut across every worker in the health system, the health ministry has changed it.

“When we say health workers, we mean all those that have been employed by the health system via the health ministry, hospitals, and other parastatals. Everybody they employed there is a health worker.

“We expected that the percentage should be uniform. If you cannot give a high percentage to the lower grade levels, then make the percent uniform. That was the agreement we signed.”

He accused the federal government of violating the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU it earlier signed with health professionals which he noted, that all categories of health workers in the federal government Teaching Hospitals and Federal Medical Centres be paid 50 percent of their Consolidated Basic Salary as Special COVID-19 Hazard and Inducement Allowance.

According to him, instead of using Paragraph 1(a) of the agreement, the Ministry of Health has changed it and was using Paragraph 1(d), which according to him, was meant for a different purpose and intent.

“The unions have gone into the agreement, even though that was not our best option, but the ministry of health is turning it upside down.

“Since hazard does not discriminate, therefore, the position of JOHESU is that hazard should be flat rate. Since it used to be N5000, they should just improve it and make it a flat rate.

“Other allowances can vary but hazard allowance should be flat. This is because no causative agent will say this is a none professional, I will harm him less. Therefore, we wanted that the hazard allowance to be flat rate.

“But, you know the majority always have their way. The majority agreed that we should use percentage, I don’t have any alternative than to key to it.

“But now even the percentage, we agreed that it should cut across every worker in the health system, the health ministry has changed it.

“When we say health workers, we mean all those that have been employed by the health system via the health ministry, hospitals, and other parastatals. Everybody they employed there is a health worker.

“We expected that the percentage should be uniform. If you cannot give a high percentage to the lower grade levels, then make the percent uniform. That was the agreement we signed.

“For people who are not in the health system, who are posted on secondment, for example, there are people who are posted from the main service pool to the ministry of health, those ones can be posted out again.

“It has been concluded that 10 percent should go to such category of people because they were not earning hazard allowance before, but because of COVID-19, this provision has been made to cover them.

“But for the health ministry to now deny the content of an agreement, paragraph 1(a) and use paragraph 1(d) which is meant for entirely a different intent and purpose are unfortunate.

“For the ministry to now countermand the validity of Section 1(a) is a deliberate way of causing the crisis in the health sector. The health ministry, indeed, has not learned any lesson as a result of the COVID-19, ” he said.

While commending the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health for his determination to ensure that the issues were resolved, the JOHESU President, called on the Ministry “that has misinterpreted that agreement to correct itself by reordering and ensure that the agreed percentage is implemented.”

According to him, the outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed inadequacies in the government’s healthcare delivery.

“When we were shouting about the decay in the health system, they decided to shut our agitations and the other way is that they have deliberately denied us our rights and privileges so that we will be provoked to embark on strike. When we embark on strike, they will now use it to tell people that it is because we are running a public health system. So, they have been trying to cover this up. But thanks to COVID-19.

” It has unearthed everything that we have been saying for decades. Today, everybody in Nigeria has seen that the health system is in bad shape,” he said.

Vanguard

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