JOHESU: Why we are joining health workers’ strike — State union leaders

JOHESU: Why we are joining health workers’ strike — State union leaders

State leaders of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) say the states and local government health workers have agreed to join the ongoing strike by health workers of federal health institutions so as to mount maximum pressure on government to meet their demands.

VELOXNEWS earlier Wednesday reported that the states and local governments health workers had been directed to join the strike by Wednesday midnight.

“There are common issues that bind us together and one of them is upward review of our consolidated salary scheme as it was done for medical doctors and if that of the federal is reviewed, it will reflect on our own salary scheme too,” Olatunji Tajudeen, JOHESU Lagos State Council Chairman told VELOXNEWS.

“We can no longer leave only our federal counterparts to fight the battle alone because the strike is now creating so much work load in the states and local governments.

“Patients who can no longer receive services at tertiary institutions now turn to the states so it appears the impact was not much. But by the time we join, the federal government will feel the heat even more and they will know it is necessary to consider our own demands,” Mr Tajudeen stated.

He said any adjustment done at the federal level will trickle down to the workers at the state and local governments.

He further noted that each state has peculiar demands which they are asking of their various governments, prompting them to join the industrial action.

JOHESU, an association of health workers except doctors, has been on strike for three weeks now.

Patients’ are worst hit as nurses and midwives — some of the most influential members of JOHESU — have all downed tools in federal health institutions.

On dangers the strike pose on lives of patients in dire need of care, Mr Tajudeen said: “If you noticed, this strike started three weeks ago, if we have a sensitive government which really cares about the affairs of the masses, they would have solved that problem. What are they waiting for?

“At first we gave them 21 days ultimatum, we gave another 30 days ultimatum yet they didn’t do anything until the strike was declared and now its three weeks and they have not found solution.

“This is an irresponsible government. The masses should hold them accountable. Its only a few people that can afford private hospitals and the government officials are not bothered because they travel abroad to get medical attention.”

Also speaking, the union’s South West States coordinator, Eze Uzondu, said the call to join their federal counterparts in the strike was not borne out of sympathy.

He said the states are joining because the policy of government to bypass all other health workers and attend to only the doctors in both states and federal health institutions is unfair.

“What most state governments are saying is that we should go and bring the adjustment secular that can authorise them to apply the consolidated salary scheme. Based on that, it is not a sympathy strike, it is a trade union dispute by our members to also push the need for an adjustment for our own salary. What is affecting the federal is also affecting the states.

“When the medical doctors’ salaries were adjusted in Lagos State, JOHESU came for theirs but were told to get a secular to that effect from the federal because the policy is coming from the Federal Ministry of Health.

“They overlook other health workers. We want to show them that we have 95 percent of the workforce in the health sector and we can shut the sector down.”

The government had threatened to invoke the ‘no work no pay’ rule on the striking workers but the union said they will be on the strike until their demands are met.
The government later set up a ‘high level committee’ to reconsider JOHESU demands.

According to the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, 14 out of 15 demands of the union have been implemented, a claim JOHESU described as ‘fallacious’.

No common ground has been reached in the series of meetings between the parties in a bid to resolve the crisis.

Calls and text messages sent to the Health Minister and ministry’s spokesperson, Boade Akinola, for response to the allegations by the union were not returned as at press time.

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