21 September 2017

Nigeria: Health Workers' Union Directs Members to Begin Indefinite Strike

As nurses join the frey, Adewole appeals to JOHESU to shelve strike

Hammed Shittu in Ilorin and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) in the teaching hospitals and medical centres across the country thursday directed its members to begin an indefinite strike from thursday.

The JOHESU comprises five registered unions.

They are Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and Associated Institutions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWU), Senior Staff Association of Research Institutes and Associated Institution (SSARIAI), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM).

The union said the decision to call out their members for strike was based on the alleged failure of the federal government to implement all agreements, memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and court judgements.

Addressing journalists in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, National Chairman of the unions, Biobelemoye Josiah, asked the government to approve adjustment of CONHESS.

Josiah, however, urged members to hold rallies and meetings at all hospitals "everyday."

He said: "We once again appeal to the federal government to tow the path of honour and implement all agreements, MoUs and court judgements while we urge our members at the tertiary health level to make the strike total and comprehensive.

"In the event that no appreciable response is received from government within 15 days of the strike by the federal tertiary health institutions, all our members in the state and local governments nationwide are directed to join the action by September 28.

"We call on well-meaning Nigerians to put pressure on the government to give into our demands, while we appeal to the Nigerian masses to bear with us in this struggle to improve health care services in country."

The strike is tagged: 'Operation alligator bite'.

Josiah added that "series of MoUs, agreements and court cases which JOHESU and its unions won at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria "were never implemented for our members while court judgements on skipping the medical doctors who were never a part of the struggle nor proceedings were never obeyed.

"JOHESU has been very patient with the federal government since 2012 and series of ultimatums were issued to draw the attention of the government to our plight but no commensurate attention was given, instead our demands were either jettisoned outright, treated with disdain, intimidated with court action or the quick application of no work no pay.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has expressed shock and surprise at planned industrial action.

Adewole in a statement by the Assistant Director, Media and Public Relations, Mr. Olajide Oshundun, said the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment have had series of meeting with the leadership of JOHESU of which most of their demands had been met.

The minister listed some of these demands to include payment of promotion arrears that pre-dated President Muhammad Buhari's administration.

He said the other issues raised by JOHESU are still being deliberated upon with the leadership of the union

To this end, Adewole appealled to the group and their conscience not to embark on strike in the interest of the generality of Nigerians especially the less privileged that might not be able to afford healthcare services in the private hospitals.

He promised that the government of President Buhari would continue do everything humanly possible to guarantee quality and affordable healthcare delivery services to Nigerians.

However, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), has joined JOHESU on the strike afterTuesday's meeting on issues bordering on Nigeria health care services, state of infrastructure, Nigeria health care policies and management, Nigeria security matters, and the nursing profession.

The leadership of NANNM in a communiqué signed by the President, Abdrafiu Adeniji and General Secretary, T. A. Shetima, stated that it was in agreement with all JOHESU's positions on the recent seven-day ultimatum given to the federal government to accede to all its lingering demands dated back to 2012.

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