Health workers’ strike: Nigerian govt sets up committee to reconsider JOHESU demands

Prof. Isaac Adewole. Minister of Health
Prof. Isaac Adewole. Minister of Health

The Federal Government says it has set up a committee to review the ‘technical and financial’ related aspects of the demands by the striking Joint Health Sector Unions.

According to the government, this was part of the decisions reached at a meeting of top officials held on Sunday night aimed at finding ways of ending the ongoing strike.

The Director of Press, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Lawrence Ojabo, who disclosed this in a statement said, “the high level Federal Government team will continue its meeting on Monday and Tuesday.”

The government had threatened to invoke the ‘no work no pay’ on JOHESU, the association of other health workers apart from medical doctors and dentists, a day after it began an indefinite strike over failure of the government to honor the 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.

Calling a bluff of the government’s threat to invoke the rule, the union said it was not intimidated adding that it will go on with the strike until its demands are met.

The strike which is on its fifth day has crippled health care delivery across federal health institutions across the country.

According to the union, state and local government health institutions will join the strike in two weeks if the government fails to accede to demands.

Mr Ojoba in the Sunday statement said health facilities across the nation will continue to work unhindered as Government has put adequate security on ground for the protection of citizens.

“Government continues to reassure members of the public that FG health facilities nationwide shall provide normal services and urges all employees to go about their duties peacefully as adequate security protection shall be ensured,” Mr Ojabo said.

Meanwhile, JOHESU said it was no longer ready to go back to the negotiation table with the government.

“There are no more negotiation because the government had already reached an agreement with us and signed it so nothing again to negotiate, the only thing we may look at as agreement is how many months of the arrears are they going to pay because its now four years since 2014 to date. But any other thing is sealed and signed”, the National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela said in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

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