The Joint Health Sector Unions, (JOHESU) has described as ‘untrue’ a claim by the Nigerian government that it has implemented all except one demand of the union which prompted its ongoing strike.
JOHESU, a union comprising all health workers in Nigeria apart from medical doctors and dentists, has been on an indefinite strike for almost two weeks crippling healthcare delivery across federal institutions.
The association had called for the nationwide strike last September.
Some of its major demands then included salary adjustments, payment of promotion arrears and improved work environment for members.
On the ninth day of the strike, the union struck a deal with the government.
But according to the union, six months after, the government is yet to meet any of its demands, prompting a continuation of the industrial action on April 17.
On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in a statement signed by the Ministry’s Assistant Director of Information, Olajide Oshundun, said JOHESU had presented a 15-point demand last September and that the 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.”
The minister also said there was no agreement between the government and JOHESU prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He explained that what “JOHESU was brandishing as 2014 agreement were minutes of meetings they had with the organs of federal government.”
Mr Adewole, however, said the federal government is doing everything in its powers to resolve the matter.
Reacting, the National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela, on Monday faulted the minister’s claims.
On the claim that JOHESU had no agreement with the government prior to the Buhari administration and that it was brandishing minutes of meetings as 2014 agreement with government, the union leader explained.
“We have the documents where government functionaries, the then SGF (Secretary to the Government, Federation), Pius Anyim, all signed an agreement with us. If he (health minister) is saying, it is minutes of meeting, then that is his own interpretation.
“Why he is saying this is because he knows during implementation of our demands, we are going to request for arrears starting from 2014.
“I think he is coming from a technical aspect. That because President (Goodluck) Jonathan government has gone, so all of the activities and agreement we had then should go; but government is a continuous process for crying out loud. You inherit both the liability and the asset, the liability is what he wants to shelve away from his own ‘regime’. Moreover, the issue of medical doctors salary adjustment and ours came up same time in 2014 and they have quickly done their own.”
Mr Chimela further described as ‘fallacious’ the claim that 14 out of the 15-point demand of the union has been met by the government.
“That is fallacious. We have the agreement and if he is claiming he has done 14 out of 15, let him provide details of the arrears he’s saying he has implemented out of the the 15-point demand. This is a very clear matter.
“Has he done the demand of increasing retirement age from 60 to 65 years? Has he paid the skipping CONHESS 10 arrears? Has he corrected the scale to scale promotion? Has he addressed the understaffing issue among others, apart from the adjusted CONHESS salary demand? So why will he go to the public and start lying that he has done 14 out of the 15 demands. His claims are untrue and we will controvert them.”