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Updated: Health workers begin strike Sept 13

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*Wants Keyamo to lead negotiations

*Condemn hike in petrol, electricity tariff

BREAKING: Health workers begin strike Sept. 13

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja

Health Workers on Monday gave the Federal Government ultimatum to address all their demands before September 13 or they will proceed on strike.

The Health Workers under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals, JOHESU, also urged the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN, to take over the negotiations between them and government from the substantive Minister Senator Chris Ngige.

They accused Senator Ngige who incidentally is a medical doctor of compromise.

This is as the workers have condemned the recent hike in electricity tariff and the removal of petroleum subsidy which has led to an increase of the petroleum pump price.

National Chairman of JOHESU, Comrade Bio Joy Josiah, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said that the commitment of the union to resolve issues through dialogue has been taken for granted.

READ ALSO: Health workers’ strike paralyze Enugu public hospitals

He said the government looks at the health workers as people who cannot bear hunger, adding that the union from September 13 would test its ability whether hunger would kill its members or not.

The demands of the workers as contained in the statement that should be implemented before the September 13 deadline include;

“The Federal Government, States, and Local Government Areas must come-up with COVID-19 palliatives to the citizenry while improving service delivery and remedial measures to combat failing and decaying infrastructural facilities.

“Immediate payment of the shortfall in the COVID-19 allowances of non-clinical staff in the FHIs presently pegged at 10% to the agreed 50% of basic salaries paid all clinical staff in the FHIs.

“States and Local Governments that have not domesticated the COVID-19 allowances for their clinical and non-clinical health workers are advised by the contents of the agreement to do so without further delay in order to avoid break down of industrial harmony in their health sector.

“Unconditional payment of all withheld salaries at Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, JUTH, LUTH and the compliments of April and May 2018 salaries which were vindictively authorised by the wicked and malicious Prof. Isaac Adewole administration at the FMoH.

“States and Local Governments are urged to unconditionally pay all outstanding salaries. States are urged to conclude minimum wage negotiations and implementation.”

It told the government to in addition, implement all outstanding promotions.

JOHESU admonished the Federal Government to authorise the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN to lead the government team that will redress the clamour for the adjustment of CONHESS as was done with CONMESS to guarantee fairness and justice to all parties concerned.

It claimed that “it has become too obvious that Dr. Chris Ngige has not been able to live up to the status of an ideal arbiter because of his background as a Medical Doctor who has a vested interest to align with the NMA position because he remains a committed member of the professional body.”

It said the Presidency must insist in tandem with the rule of law that the Ministry of Health must adhere to and obey all the dictates of the consent judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, NICN as delivered on March 19, 2019.

On the looming strike, it threatened that “If the Federal Government does not meet these demands by mid-night of September 13, 2020, JOHESU will have no other choice than to commence a nationwide 7-days warning strike of our members in all the Federal Health Institutions (FHIs).

“The States and LG Health Institutions are placed on red alert for possible entry into the fray if the FG foot-drags in attending to our demands.”

JOHESU, however, reiterated its commitment to continue to work with the Federal Government and all stakeholders in its bid to improve the ailing and over-stretched health system with necessary reforms in the public interest.

“In the light of this, we solicit urgent pro-active measures geared towards avoiding disruption of services in the Health Sector by statesmen, traditional rulers, religious bodies, and other men of goodwill within the lifespan of pending ultimatum to Government in the ultimate National interest,” it said.

On the state of the nation, the union said that it would continue to critically evaluate the insecurity of lives and properties in Nigeria.

It said, “We continue to support and evaluate the anti-corruption war of the Federal Government and believe that it appears too haphazard to be impactful. The government must ensure all corruption-related investigations and litigations are accelerated and completed.

READ ALSO: Lagos Health Commission admonishes health workers on good electoral conduct

“Also, a conscious effort must be made to protect genuine whistleblowers from harm and victimization in the hands of corrupt heavy weights or privileged Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs; as in the case of Federal Medical Center, FMC, Owerri, etc.

“To this end, we demand that the victimization by four to five months of withheld salaries, denied promotions/appointments, punitive transfers, etc, meted to our patriotic members in FMC-Owerri, JUTH, etc be immediately reversed to rekindle the quenched zeal/patriotism.

“We in strong terms reject the hike in electricity tariff especially at this crunch period occasioned by COVID, as it clearly amplifies the sufferings of poor Nigerians where our members belong.

“As a short term solution, we demand urgent fix of our refineries to begin local refining and mitigate the volatility of the petroleum products prices with attendant anti-masses effect.

“We at JOHESU take cognisance of the deregulation of fuel prices by the PPPRA and we condemn it as insensitive to the plight of the people just as the introduction of stamp duties to be paid by tenants in properties to the FIRS remains the climax of absurdity.  We, therefore, request the FIRS to reverse the stamp duty.

“It is worrisome that when other countries are offering palliatives as well as reducing inclination towards social dysfunctions, our leaders appear to be sowing seeds of hardship and bitter pills to bring depression to the doorstep of citizens.”

Vanguard

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