Health workers protest in Abuja, seek implementation of collective bargaining with govt.
The Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) yesterday protested at the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, demanding immediate implementation of the collective bargaining agreement reached with the government.
The workers, who arrived at the complex in large number as early as 8 am with placards of several inscriptions, demanded a holistic turn around in the health sector to enable Nigerians to have access to quality healthcare.
Kicking against unjustified withholding of the salaries of JOHESU members for the months of April and May 2018, the protesters also called for an upward review of CONHESS salary structure.
They threatened to mobilize Nigerian workers to come out with their mattresses, pillows and cooking utensils to the Federal Secretariat, Abuja, and the houses of the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in both Abuja and his village in Osun State.
Addressing the workers, president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba, who decried the discrimination against health workers in the country, said there must be justice for peace to reign in the sector.
He added that he had written to the president, as well as the minister of health and his labor and productivity counterpart, on the need to resolve the dispute in the health sector but did not get any response.
Criticizing the of health minister for implementing the “no work no pay” rule in the health sector, he said: “The law of No Work No Pay is a military decree. It is decree 54 of 1977. No government in the history of Nigeria, either military or civilian, had implemented it. Why should it then be implemented, if they didn’t implement the collective bargaining agreement? He who goes to equity must go with clean hands.
“We will continue to fight. Let us be ready. Anytime you hear that we are reconvening here, you should come with your mattress and pillow. We are going to get people to cook here; we will sleep here. The minister has said that he doesn’t want peace in the health sector; he cannot also have peace in his family, village and wherever he is. I want to assure you that we cannot be deterred. Nobody can associate your action, which is legitimate, to any political association.”
JOHESU president, Josiah Biobelemoye, said the peaceful protest was in response to the deliberate attempt by the health minister to disrespect various agreements government reached with the health workers.
According to him, the union’s plan was to lock down the ministry and occupy it till their requests were met, but they toned down their action because of the intervention by the leadership of the NLC.
He said, “Most worrisome was that they have violated several parts of the order of the National Industrial Court (NIC). They have equally implemented no work no pay, which was contrary to the suggestions of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) team.
“We never requested equality; we only requested equity. We ought to have commenced a nationwide strike on Monday or Tuesday, but swift intervention came from a highly respected cleric over the weekend, who asked for more time to intervene.
“We have agreed to soft-pedal and watch the outcome of the intervention this week. We won’t hesitate to embark on strike by the end of this week, if we fail to get positive response.”