The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) have called a bluff of the federal government’s threat to invoke the ‘no work no pay rule’ rule should the unions persist in continuing with their strike.
The strike has crippled health care delivery in parts of the country.
The union said it is not intimidated by any form of threat adding that it will go on with the strike until its demands are met.
The government threatened to invoke the rule a day after JOHESU, the association of other health workers apart from medical doctors and dentists, began an indefinite strike over failure of the government to meet agreement it had with the union last September.
“If this group of health workers persists on continuing this strike, government will be forced to invoke the provisions of the relevant labour laws, especially Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act”, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment said in a statement Wednesday by its Director of Press, Samuel Olowookere.
Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act states that where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or other remuneration for the period of the strike, and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly.
Reacting to the threat, the National Chairman of the union, Biobelemoye Josiah, in a press briefing Friday in Abuja said government’s ‘No work No Pay’ policy was a diversionary tactics which would not hold water.
He further accused the ministry of Health of having an ‘unholy alliance’ with the Nigerian Medical Association geared towards thwarting efforts of the union to achieve its demands from the government.
“We wish to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari, and the general public to the discriminatory, suppressive and oppressive attitude of the drivers of the health sector to all health workers other than medical doctors in managing health care delivery in Nigeria.
“It’s on record that patients are always hurriedly discharged and diverted to their private clinics whenever medical doctors are on strike and thereby preventing other health workers from performing their duties and nothing like locum doctors employed to serve the public nor registers opened to enforce compliance; while the policy of ‘No Work No Pay’ has never been applied to the strike mongers who call themselves medical doctors,” the union leader said.
The JOHESU lead further called on members nationwide to disregard all forms of threat or intimidation from government and ensure that services are withdrawn until “our demands are met.”
“We call on government to ensure equity and justice in the health sector instead of putting the health of Nigerians in jeopardy by resolving the issues on the table rather than churning out threatening circulars on registers, locum and No Work No Pay that have no universal application, as a diversionary tactics,” he said.
Chief among what the union is asking of the government is salary adjustments, a demand Nigerian doctors have vehemently opposed, warning the government that acceding to such demand would precipitate a crisis that may lead to the collapse of the health sector of the country.