Health Workers Strike: Nigerian govt, JOHESU hold crucial meeting Monday

Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole

The federal government and the striking Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), will reconvene on Monday in a bid to find a resolution to the strike.

This was indicated in a statement by the Ministry of Health on Sunday in reaction to an advert sponsored by JOHESU in the Daily Trust Newspaper of Saturday April 28.

The union in the advert accused the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, of denying the existence of an agreement between it and the Nigerian government in 2014.

The ministry, in a statement signed by the Assistant Director of Information, Olajide Oshundun, said the information JOHESU gave in the advert was incorrect and misleading.

JOHESU, a union comprising of all health workers in Nigeria apart from medical doctors and dentists, has been on an indefinite strike for 12 days crippling healthcare delivery across federal institutions.

In the statement, the minister said there was no agreement between the government and JOHESU prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He described the advert as unwarranted and misinformation to the public.

Mr Adewole said the federal government is doing everything in its power to resolve the matter.

He explained that what “JOHESU was brandishing as 2014 agreement were minutes of meetings they had with the organs of Federal Government.”

He added that in September 2017, JOHESU presented 15-point demand. He said the federal government has implemented 14 out of it while the last demand is still being attended to by the “high level body set up by the government to look into its implementation”.

According to the statement, the September 2017 agreement stated that: “The meeting noted that two different figures had been submitted to the National Salaries and Wages Commission on separate occasions.

“It was observed that the figures are no longer realistic due to lapse of time. The NSIWC should therefore do a fresh submission based on new data consistent with the present reality. The FMOH is expected to make available necessary and required data to NSIWC to enable fresh computation.

“The newly computed figures will be forwarded by National Salaries and Wages Commission to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission for processing to the high level body (HLB), of the government and thereafter to Federal Ministry of Health within five weeks.”

This has been done, the statement added.

Speaking on other efforts to settle the dispute, the minister said the federal government has put machinery in place to ensure that the strike is called off by meeting with JOHESU officials on several occasions, the last being on April 25, at the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment in Abuja.

Mr Adewole disclosed that the government has offered JOHESU members opportunity to adjust their salaries and wages, “but what JOHESU is asking for is parity with medical doctors which is not practicable or acceptable to the Federal Government.”

He said a cursory look at the salary tables in the health sector before and after independence till date have always reflected relativity and the 2014 salary adjustment for medical doctors was to correct the anomaly of 2009 and restore relativity.

He appealed to JOHESU to immediately call off the strike and allow the high level body to conclude its assignment as contained in the 2017 agreement.

The union had vowed that state and local government health institutions will join the strike within two weeks if the government fails to accede to the demands.

JOHESU also said it is no longer ready to go back to the negotiation table with the government.

PREMIUM TIMES could not immediately get the union’s reaction to some of the claims in the statement.

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