Nigerian health workers ignore minister, commence nationwide strike

FILE: From left: Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and Chairman of the Senate Committee on the North-East, Sen. Shehu Sani, during the North-East health sector working group’s meeting in Abuja on Tuesday. 03227/14/6/2017/Johnson Udeani/BJO/NAN

The Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, has insisted on going on strike in spite of the Minister of Health’s plea with the association not to do so.

The strike commenced in the early hours of Thursday, the union, whose membership includes other hospital workers apart from doctors, said.

The strike is coming a few days after the National Association of Resident Doctors called off its ten days national industrial action that crippled health activities at both secondary and tertiary health institutions
The chairman, University College Hospital, UCH, JOHESU chapter, who also doubles as Deputy President south, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Olusegun Sotiloye, said the strike is indefinite until the government attends to their demands which include payment of arrears of salaries owned their members, among other requests.

Mr. Sotiloye said the association is going ahead with the strike despite the minister’s plea.

“His pleading does not hold any water, the government should issue circulars to direct or show that all the outstanding arrears or salaries would be paid. This is not the first time they have been pleading. If they have been serious about resolving it they would at least we gave them thirty seven days ultimatum,” he said.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, in his response expressed shock and surprise at the association’s insistence on embarking on strike in spite of the series of meeting the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment held with the leadership of JOHESU.

Mr. Adewole said most of their demands had been met, including payment of promotion arrears that pre-dated the Muhammad Buhari administration.

He said the other issues raised by JOHESU are still being deliberated upon with the leadership of the Union.

He therefore appealed to JOHESU not to embark on strike in the interest of the generality of Nigerians especially the less privileged that may not be able to afford healthcare services in private hospitals.

He assured that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue do everything humanly possible to guarantee quality and affordable healthcare delivery services to Nigerians.

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