Nigeria: Health Workers Strike - Islamic Scholar, Reverend, Say It's Spiritually Wrong for Johesu to Expect Salaries for Striking Periods

A protest by Nigerian health workers.
16 May 2018

A Professor of Islamic studies and a Former Vice Chancellor of Al-Hikmah University, Prof. Abdulrasaq Abdulbakri, has said it is against the tenets of Islam to receive salary for the period one has not worked.

Prof. Abdulbakri, an Islamic Scholar, said this while was speaking with the newsmen against the backdrop of the ongoing strike by Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).

JOHESU is demanding an upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Scale, arrears of skipping of CONHESS 10 and employment of additional health professionals.

JOHESU is also asking for implementation of court judgments and upward review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years.

But the don, who recently retired from the University of Ilorin, said unions in Nigeria should find ways of resolving grievances with the government rather than resorting to strike.

"If you pay zakat on the salary you received and did not work for, you will not receive the intended reward from God.

"The perspective of Islam is that of trust, trust is very crucial in Islam. JOHESU members are entrusted with the concern and care of patients across hospitals in Nigeria.

"Money is important but it is secondary, secondary in the sense that your primary role is to save lives.

"Health workers must understand that it is God that heals and they must have this at the back of their minds," he said.

He also said the country must develop a culture of responsibility and response, urging government to also be alive to its responsibilities.

The don condemned JOHESU's demand for parity with medical doctors, saying it was unreasonable.

Abubakre said the foundation of JOHESU's strike was weak, urging its leaders to be serious and reasonable in their negotiations.

He, however, called on the Federal Government to be proactive and always prevent strikes from happening rather than finding solutions to industrial disputes.

A cleric, Rev. Cornelius Fawenu, also corroborated the views of Abdulbakri, saying the position of Christianity on " receiving salaries for the period one did not work was clear and unambiguous."

"From the biblical perspective, the scripture is clear; it says he who does not work must not eat.

"I am sure it is from your salary that you eat from, it is not wise and it is not moral that you expect to be paid for the work you have not done.

"The scripture also says that when you hire a labourer to work for you, his sweat must not dry up before you pay him.

"The wages must be commensurate with the work done, " Fawenu said.

The former Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Kwara, said health workers must consider the nature of their profession before embarking on strike.

"These people should know that even though they have grievances, the humane side of them should be able to come to play.

"Those who are suffering now are not in government; when those in government want to access medical care, they know where to go, " he said.

Fawenu, a former Special Assistant to the Governor on Religious Matters, however, urged the Federal Government to brace up and set its priority right.

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