Nigeria: Health Workers Strike - Johesu Considering Govt's New Offer

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An official of the striking health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has confirmed that the federal government made an offer to the union in a bid to end the impasse.

According to the National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela, the government made the offer at the meeting held Thursday.

"Yes they gave us an offer. We will study it critically on Monday to know if its something we can accept or not," Mr Chimela told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.

JOHESU, an association of health workers except doctors, has been on strike for almost a month.

Patients are the worst hit. They are currently passing through untold pain even as their relatives have been grumbling as nurses and midwives -- some of the most influential members of JOHESU -- have all downed tools.

No common ground has been reached in the series of meetings between the government and the union except for last Wednesday's meeting when the government promised "to prepare an offer".

Mr Chimela said the union is expected to meet with the government on Tuesday to make a presentation on the offer they received. "We hope this will be the concluding meeting."

Meanwhile, Nigerian doctors have threatened to withdraw their services across health institutions in the country if the government finally accedes to the demands of the striking JOHESU.

The doctors- under the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), are opposed to salary adjustment and harmonisation for the health workers. On Thursday, the NMA said the warning became necessary as state and local government workers joined the strike in a bid to force the government to act.

Responding, the JOHESU leader said, "It is baffling. One is surprised that a fellow worker in the system who had gone to government and made a demand which the government approved is now the one telling the government it will down tools if it accepts the demands of another worker.

"On what basis? We are all professionals in our own field and none of us is greater than the other. When you negotiated for yours, we never interfered but because of greed and ego, you just want to dominate and suppress everybody but we will not take that.

"They (NMA) are entitled to their own view but the government is there to instil what is right. Moreover it is not their personal money that will be used in paying us and it is not going to affect their salaries in anyway so I wonder why they are doing this to us.

"They claim to be the leaders of the health sector but are leaders supposed to be greedy, selfish, intimidating and not care about the welfare of others?"

Calls and text messages sent to the Health Minister, Isaac Adewole, and the spokespersons of both ministry of health and that of labour for comments on the ongoing negotiations were not returned.

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