Health Workers Shelve Planned Strike
There are indications that health and medical workers have shelved their planned industrial action on the backdrop of a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU). They are to sign another Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with government next week on modalities for implementing their agreement.
Speaking after a conciliation meeting in Abuja, Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige said all parties struck an understanding, including enhancement of hazard allowance, review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, arrears of national minimum wage consequential adjustments and upward review of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as done to the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
The minister said they had no problem with the old issues, as the meeting agreed that the new ones should be channelled to the employer Federal Ministry of Health for deliberation.
On the hazard allowance, Ngige recalled that the government held four meetings earlier with JOSEHU and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) alongside their affiliates, adding that at a point, there were areas of departure.
He noted that the NMA and a union hitherto thought to be part of JOHESU demanded compartmentalisation of the discussions, which government granted.
The former governor of Anambra State added that other contentious issues like the 30 per cent of shift duty allowance to nurses and others, payment of outstanding allowance to intern health professionals, payment of teaching allowance to JOHESU members on CONHESS 7 and 8, as well as skipping arrears, are to be expeditiously handled by the health ministry.
The minister noted that the resolution of issues affecting members in the state health institutions was for the Council on Health, adding that the health ministry had been directed to forward them accordingly.
He hinted that JOHESU would meet with the ministry tomorrow to draw up a framework for all discussions to start.
“We will be ready to address all the issues. But we agreed that as a result of the perilous state of the economy, the principle of capacity to pay will guide all our discussions,” Ngige stated.
In his remarks, JOHESU President, Bibielemoye Josiah, who pointed out that strike was not the way to go, expressed optimism that all issues raised by the unions would be positively attended to by agencies of government.