… FG sues for negotiation
THE ongoing industrial action by members of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOEHESU) yesterday crippled activities across public sector hospitals nationwide.
Their national executives were seen going from place to place to monitor compliance and ensure total paralysis of federal public hospitals across the country.
The strike is over non-payment of COVID-19 hazard allowance, among other welfare benefits allegedly promised by the Federal Government.
In Ogun State at the Federal Medical Centre, Idi-Aba, Abeokuta, the JOHESU members grounded medical activities.
The union had earlier held a congress on the premises of the FMC, where members decried the infrastructural decay in various government hospitals across the country.
The Chairman of the Senior Staff Association at the FMC, Bashir Ayobamiji-Obabiyi, said they are striking over same issues raised two years ago.
“To our dismay, the Federal Government withheld two months’ salary, April and May, because we went on strike. But about two or three times, medical doctors have proceeded on strike and their salaries were paid, which is a high level of injustice in the system,” he said.
At the Olabisi Onabanjo Teaching Hospital, Sagamu, the branch Chairman of JOHESU, Jayeola Thomas, said members of the union were on duty because the industrial action only affected their counterparts at federal health institutions.
In Lagos, activities were paralysed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba; Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Meta; and the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi.
Although doctors were seen attending to patients on emergency at the hospitals, JOHESU members shunned work.
At LUTH, the striking workers were holding a meeting when our correspondent visited the hospital and ensured that none of the union members resumed at their duty posts.
At the NOHIL, an official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the impact of strike was being felt.
“Although, doctors are not on strike, who will check the files of those who have been given an appointment? The engineering department can decide not to switch on the generators if there is no power supply. We really hope that the strike will be called off soon,” the source said.
At the FMC, only emergency situations were being attended to by the hospital.
A source said a lot of patients were sent back home as there were no workers to check for their files.
Also at Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, Osun State, some members of JOHESU resumed at their duty posts early on Monday.
But the OAUTHC JOHESU Chairman, Lateef Adeyeni, said the compliance was around 85 per cent as of 2.30pm.
“The strike is effective now. Presently, we are having about 85 per cent compliance. By tomorrow, the tally will increase,” he said
Health workers at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Ido Ekiti, Ekiti State, joined the JOHESU strike.
JOHESU members at the Ekiti State Government-owned health care facilities were, however, at their desks on Monday.
However, the state JOHESU Chairman, Oluwafemi Ajoloko, said all health workers in the state were on the same page with the national leadership.
The Federal Government has appealed to the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) to suspend its nationwide strike.
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire made the appeal on Monday during a briefing of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in Abuja.
While noting that the call is necessary in view of the pandemic, the Minister asked the striking workers to sheathe their sword and come to the negotiation table.
“I use this opportunity to appeal to JOHESU to suspend their industrial action and go into negotiation,” he said.
“The position of the Ministry of Health is that strikes by healthcare workers jeopardise the lives of citizens, especially at such times of global health emergencies as now.
“Nigeria needs the service of all our health workers to control the spread of COVID-19. Issues around allowances are multi-sectoral and have always been saved with negotiations no matter how long it took.”
The minister’s plea comes hours after JOHESU President, Dr. Biobelomoye Josiah, asked the federal government to attend to its demands with the same seriousness it attached to those of the National Association of Resident Doctors.
The residents doctors, under NARD, also downed tools last week but called it off days after coming to an agreement with federal government representatives.
JOHESU, which is the umbrella body of health workers’ unions and associations in the country, said its demands merited such urgent attention, too.