Following the restoration of relative industrial peace in the health sector, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is appealing to state governors not to jeopardize the terms of settlement brokered by the Federal Government.
The President of NARD, Ugochukwu Chinaka raised concerns over the development in some teaching Federal and State hospitals which may adversely affect the agreement sealed with the Federal Government.
The Joint Health Sector Union has suspended its industrial action in principle.
The suspension follows a conciliation meeting between its leadership and representatives of the Federal Government in Abuja on Saturday.
Consequently, the union has asked its members across the country to resume work on Wednesday next week after a meeting of its executive members to ratify the decision on Tuesday.
Health workers under the union had started an industrial action on September 21, a day after it declared the strike.
They went on strike one week after the Federal Government resolved the dispute with resident doctors.
The union had demanded the revamp of infrastructure in the tertiary health institutions; report of the inter-ministerial sub-committee on critical matters in the health sector; professional autonomy; among others.
Saturday’s meeting between the leadership of the union and representatives of the Federal Government was the second reconciliatory meeting between both sides.
The first meeting between both sides earlier in the week had ended in a deadlock with both sides disagreeing on the legality of the strike.
At the meeting which was chaired by the Federal Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and Health Minister, Issac Adewole, Ngige accused the health workers of failing to abide by the country’s labour laws.
But the union insisted that no labour law had been violated by their action.
Both ministers were absent at Saturday’s meeting and were represented by the Minister of State for Labour and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
The Joint Health Sector Workers Union is made up of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Senior Staff Association of Universities’ Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, among others.
The Federal Government is currently holding another conciliatory meeting with striking health workers.
This second conciliatory meeting is holding after the first meeting which was held on September 27, ended in deadlock.
The meeting is chaired by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige. Ngige and his Ministry of Health-counterpart, Professor Isaac Adewole, are said to be absent at the meeting today. They are represented by the Minister of State for Labour and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.
There appears not to be any headway in the negotiation between the Federal Government and the striking health workers in the country.
At the end of their reconciliation meeting in Abuja, which was chaired by the Federal Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Health Minister, Issac Adewole, both parties differed over the legality of the ongoing industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).
While the Minister of Labour criticised the health workers for not following the provisions of existing labour laws, the union insists that no labour law has been violated by their action.
“Workers that are in Energy, Medicine, and Allied medical professionals and those that their action will cause danger to health are the people that are called essential services. For those who are in essential services, Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technologists and those who have anything to do with the hospital are on essential service.
“So, when those who are in essential services go on strike, like the doctors did about four weeks ago, and you following suit, it gives us a lot of worry, especially when those strikes are not done according to the labour law,” Ngige said.
The Union in response disagreed with the Labour Minister saying, they violated no law with them saying, “We waited patiently for 30 days. We notified the government. After 30 days, we still gave 7 days and that was the final ultimatum.”
The union is demanding among other issues, that the government pay earned salary arrears of their members.
Nigeria’s health sector might experience another shutdown as nurses and midwives, including other health workers under the aegis of Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) have declared a nationwide industrial action.
This is coming one week after the Federal Government resolved the dispute with resident doctors.
The announcement about the strike was made by President, Association of Nurses and Midwives, Abdurafiu Adeniji after the meeting of the Union’s national executive council in Abuja, on Wednesday.
The group had earlier released a statement signed by the National President, Obinna Ogbonna and the national secretary Ayinde Obisesan, threatening a shutdown of healthcare services in the healthcare nationwide.
Highlight of the demands of the groups include, revamping the infrastructure in the tertiary health institutions; report of the inter-ministerial sub-committee on critical matters in the health sector; professional autonomy; among others.
The president of the Union insist on complying fully with the directives of the JOHESU to down tools on Thursday, September 21.
More troubles loom in Nigeria’s healthcare sector, as the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has given the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to meet its demands.
While the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is still on strike, JOHESU also threatened to embark on an indefinite strike from September 20, if the government fails to address all its concerns.
The health workers are demanding for the payment of promotion arrears to their members, the abolition of scale to scale promotion and the implementation of all court judgements given in their favour.
This comes as the Federal Government struggles to settle the resident doctors who have been on strike since September 4, a situation that has unleashed untold hardship on patients in public hospitals.
Addressing a press conference on Wednesday in Abuja, JOHESU President, Biobelemoye Josiah, decried government’s failure to meet their demands which he said they have been negotiating since May 2012.
According to him, the unions have resolved to inform Nigerians of their intention to “down tools as from the midnight of Wednesday, September 20, 2017.”
Josiah accused the government of frustrating the implementation of court judgements, saying the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) had ruled promotion issues concerning JOHESU members.
“We were in court till 2013 when judgement was given in favour of JOHESU,” he said, adding “The Federal Ministry of Health has been frustrating the implementation of the court judgements by introducing same scale promotion.”
“For instance, when members are promoted from CONHES 9 to 11, at subsequent promotions, they will be promoted from CONHES 11 to CONHES 11. This is totally unacceptable.”
The JOHESU President said the seven days ultimatum would come to effect from Thursday, after which he said they would begin a total indefinite industrial action on Wednesday next week, should government fails to meet their demands.
“We are left with no options than to give a final seven-day ultimatum, with effect from Thursday, September 14, 2017,” he said.
“And if by the midnight of Wednesday, September 20, 2017, our demands are not met, all our members nationwide are called upon to embark on indefinite total strike.”
The group in a release signed by the National President, Obinna Ogbonna and the national secretary Ayinde Obisesan, threatened a shutdown of healthcare services in the healthcare nationwide giving the Federal Government an ultimatum which is expected to elapse September 30, 2017.
“Considering other mobilisation factors and to give the government further room to address our demands, come 30th September 2017, if the government refuses to meet our demands, the union will have no other option than to shut down health care services nationwide.
Highlight of the demands of the groups include, “Revamping the infrastructure in the tertiary health institutions; report of the inter-ministerial sub-committee on critical matters in the health sector; professional autonomy;
“Non- payment of backlog of arrears; Residency training for other health professionals; Appointments of consultants and payment of specialist allowance; Surgeon general; National health act implementation, among several other issues.”
The group, therefore, called on the Federal Government to implement all agreements and memorandum of understanding reached with NUAHP/JOHESU on or before the expiration of the ultimatum to avert the looming industrial action.
The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) in Ogun State have suspended their four-week old industrial action which had paralysed activities at the Federal Medical Centre, Idi Aba, Abeokuta.
The health workers are requesting for improved condition of service.
A visit to the medical centre in the state capital revealed that members of the union are back at their various duty posts with patients receiving medical attention.
The Chairman of the Senior Staff Association in Abeokuta Federal Medical Centre, Mr Samuel Idowu, said the suspension of the industrial action became imperative in view of positive steps being taken by the hospital management aimed at resolving the impasse.
He, however, asked members of the union to rededicate themselves for quick service delivery to the public, whom he stressed looked towards the hospital for their medical attention.
The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals (AHPA) have issued a 15-day ultimatum from February 3, 2016 to the federal government to look into their demands or face an industrial action.
The health workers have been having a protracted dispute with the federal government over a number of demands.
Some of their demands include the implementation of a circular on promotion from CONHESS 14 to 15 and the reconstitution of what the coalition calls lopsided composition of the board of management of teaching hospitals among others.
Medical doctors are, however, not part of the threat by the coalition of unions and associations of healthcare workers in Nigeria to go on strike.