Angry workers down tools, ground health sector

Posted by News Express | 21 August 2013 | 3,705 times

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Nigeria’s joint health sector unions (JOHESU) will from midnight today embark on an indefinite strike over the federal government’s failure to accede to their demands within the 21-windown of their ultimatum given on August 21.

The strike, according to union leaders, became inevitable after Health Minister, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, shunned a meeting called on Monday by the Labour Minister Emeka Wogu in an attempt to stave off the industrial action.

“Consequently upon the expiration of the ultimatum given, members of unions in JOHESU have been directed to proceed on an indefinite strike action with effect from 12 midnight of 21st August, 2013, at the Federal Tertiary Health Institutions, while our members at the states and local governments health facilities shall join as from 12 midnight of 28 August, 2013,” said a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, signed by Dr. Ayuba P. Wabba, National President, Medical & Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria (MHWUN); Marcus I. Omokhuale, Secretary-General, Medical & Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria; Adeniji A. A., National President, National Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Association Institution; and Yusuf Badmus W.G., Ag. General Secretary National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives.

“While we sincerely apologise the inconveniences this action may cause Nigerian citizens, the Minister of Health Professor Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu should be held responsible,” the labour leaders said.

They justified the decision to ground the country’s health sector, saying:

You will recall that on the 1st of August 2013, a press release containing 21 days ultimatum to government.

The ultimatum borders on ten point demand made to government and agreements reached on 10th May, 2012 on five items and resolutions made as follows: The meeting also resolved that other items which have been agreed upon required the action of the Federal Ministry of Health should be addressed on or before 29th May, 2012, to allow the Technical Working Group commence its sitting. The other items are:

i. Implementation of Presidential Committee Report on Harmony in the Health Sector;

ii. Promotion of health professionals from CONHESS 14 to 15.

iii. Request for implementation of 2008 job evaluation committee report

iv. Review of the Retirement Age from 60 to 65 years.

v. Reconstitution of Boards of Federal Teaching and Specialist Hospitals with equitable representation of union and professional associations.

Even though the Hon. Minister of Health wrote circulars Ref. SMH 5875.26/T2/2b of 20th June, 2012 and C5516/VOL.II/T2/87 of 26th March, 2013, on promotion of Health Professionals from CONHESS 14 to 15 to all Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors to promote qualified professionals, they have refused bluntly to implement the circular. The implication is that up to date, none of the issues agreed upon has been implemented.

The Honourable Minister of Labour referred the issues that the parties could not aggreed upon to the National Industrial Court (NIC) in June, 2012.

The issues were:

a. Non-Skipping of Salary CONHESS 10

b. National Health Bill

c. Consultancy and Specialist Allowances

d. Call/Shift duty and other professional allowances.

After thirteen (13) months of adjudication, the National Industrial Court in a landmark judgement delivered on Monday 22nd July, 2013, on the dispute between JOHESU and the Federal Ministry of Health earlier refereed to it by Hon. Minister of Labour and Productivity ruled among other things:

1. That skipping of CONHESS 10 is legal and the purported circular by the Ministry of Health and Head of Service of the Federation stopping it is illegal, null, void and of no effect whatsoever. The implication of the above position of the court is that members would continue to enjoy skipping of CONHESS 10.

2. That those earlier appointed as Consultants would continue to enjoy the status with all the benefits and the withdrawal of their letter of appointment is irregular, null and void.

3. That issue of shift duty, administrative non clinical and Call Duty Allowances should remain as they are but that negotiation should commence towards an agreement on upward review of the allowances.

Also, it was held by the Court (NIC) that issues already agreed upon are accrued rights and should be implemented without delay in line with collective bargaining agreement.

A meeting (was) called by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity on Monday the 19th of August, 2013. The Minister of health or his representative refused to attend the meeting.

Consequently upon the expiration of the ultimatum given, members of unions in JOHESU have been directed to proceed on an indefinite strike action with effect from 12 midnight of 21st August, 2013, at the Federal Tertiary Health Institutions, while our members at the states and local governments health facilities shall join as from 12 midnight of 28 August, 2013.

While we sincerely apologise the inconveniences this action may cause Nigerian citizens, the Minister of Health Professor Christian Onyebuchi Chukwu should be held responsible.

•Photo shows Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu.


Source: News Express

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