Ahead of a meeting scheduled for Tuesday to find a common ground between the two parties, the Nigerian government has accused health workers of not following procedure before they began their nationwide strike Thursday last week.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, who called the reconciliation meeting, said the union neglected to give government a 14-day notice required by law.
“I also wish to place on record that JOHESU had wrongly issued a seven-day strike ultimatum on September 14, instead of the mandatory 14-day notice the law requires of those on essential duties.
“The body took another wrong step by routing its notice of action to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) instead of the Labour and Employment Minister”, Mr. Ngige said in a statement by the Deputy Director, Press in the Ministry, Samuel Olowookere.
The minister, however, appealed to the health workers to return to their work posts as the government was already addressing the issues contained in their demand, while also inviting them for the meeting with a view to resolving the issues in contention.
JOHESU had on Wednesday insisted on going on strike over alleged failure of the federal government to meet its demands.
The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, had pleaded with the association not to call a strike; but it ignored the plea as the strike commenced in the early hours of Thursday.
The members of the union are hospital workers apart from medical doctors.
In compliance with the declaration of an indefinite strike by JOHESU, the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, NANNM directed its members to stay away from all federal health institutions across the country.
Premium Times had reported that normal activities were going on in public hospitals in Abuja as of Thursday.
Further checks on Tuesday however revealed that activities have now been grounded in some facilities while work continued in others.
Our correspondent who visited the Abuja National hospital at 11:30 a.m. observed that it looked deserted.
Only a handful of the personnel, especially doctors, were seen in the emergency wards and other areas attending to the few patients.
The hospital’s spokesperson, Tayo Haastrup, confirmed that the other workers are on strike but said the hospital was attending to emergency cases.
“We have put in place contingency services to treat our patients who have emergency cases so as not to record any fatality while the strike is ongoing,” he said.
Mr. Haastrup, a medical doctor, expressed hope that a meeting between the Nigerian Labour Congress and JOHESU would yield a positive result.
“We are waiting for the ongoing meeting between NLC and JOHESU. We hope it will be fruitful so we can call off the strike,” Mr. Haastrup said.
Meanwhile, security operatives including Police and civil defence are standing guard at the Federal Medical Centre, Jabi while normal activities continued.