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Health Sector Shutdown Looms As JOHESU, AHPA Gives FG 15-day Ultimatum

A total shutdown of the health sector is imminent as the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Association (AHPA) have threatened to commence an indefinite strike in 15 days if the Federal Government fails to address “outstanding welfare issues” of its members.

The unions’ threat is coming barely six days after the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) issued a 21-day ultimatum to the government.

The sector is already facing disruption in services because of the industrial action commenced by the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors on August 2.

JOHESU, which is the umbrella body for all health workers’ unions and associations, issued the strike notice to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, in a memo dated September 2.

The notice was jointly signed by the National President of Medical and Health Workers’ Union, Biobelemonye Josiah; its Acting Secretary General, Comrade Yusuf A. Kiyawa; the National President, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Comrade (Dr.) Ogbonna O.C. and its General Secretary, Comrade Martin Egbanubi.

Others are: National President, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Comrade Michael E. Nnachi and Deputy Gen. Secretary, NANNM, Comrade Nuhu Philip; National President, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Comrade (Dr.) Mako lo Hassan, and NASU General Secretary, Com (Prince) Peters Adeyemi JP.

The notice was also signed by National President, Senior Staff Association of Universities’ Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Comrade (Dr.) E. O. Popoola and its Ag. Gen. Sec., Comrade (Dr.) B. A. Akintola and AHPA Executive, Comrade Olumide Akintayo.

Copies of the memo were sent to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Office of the President of the Senate; Speaker of the House of Representatives; the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment; the Director General, Department of State Service; the Inspector General of Police Force; the Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum; the President, Nigeria Labour Congress and the President, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria.

In the letter, JOHESU listed some of the welfare issues to include the adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHES), payment of all withheld salaries, review of the implementation of COVID-19 special inducement and hazard allowance, increase in retirement age from 60 to 65 years for health workers and 70 years for consultants.

“Others are payment of reviewed hazard allowance in terms of payment that guarantee fairness and justice to all concerned; payment of actual 30 per cent consolidated basic shift duty allowance to nurses/midwives and others; payment of teaching allowance to members on CONHESS 7 and 8 (nurses, midwives and others) and proper placement of nurse graduates and interns.”

The union also listed other demands to include the payment of outstanding salaries of intern health professionals and proper implementation of the consultant pharmacist cadre for pharmacists in the public sector.

The letter reads: “You will recall that up till the time of writing this letter, the federal government has not deemed it fit to honour the terms of settlement entered into with JOHESU since September 2017.

“This is especially the upward review of CONHESS salary structure as agreed, to be completed within five weeks from the date of agreement amongst other requests.

“Government did not deem it fit to address these key issues during the duration of the last seven days warning strike and has only met with JOHESU on July 12.

“JOHESU, in compliance with the provision of Section 41 of the Trade Disputes Act Cap.T8 LFN 2004, is constrained to give the Federal Government of Nigeria 15 days ultimatum with effect from September 3.

“This also is to inform you that with effect from midnight of September 17, all our members in the federal health institutions shall embark on an indefinite strike action in all state and local government health institutions.

“You are all placed on red alert for the strike if the federal government foot drags in attending to our demands.”

The unions said they have shown patriotism despite the government’s “nonchalant attitude” to the welfare of health workers.

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