Posted by Tony Akowe, Abuja | 21 April 2018 | 2,698 times
Health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has accused the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and his Labour and Employment counterpart, Senator Chris Ngige of collaborating with Medical Doctors to frustrate their demands and make the Health Sector more viable and worker friendly.
The workers who began an indefinite strike action on Tuesday night also accused the government of intimidating its members by threatening to invoke the no work no pay policy as well as opening an attendance register for workers instead of addressing the issues that led to the strike in the first place.
They said that no amount of threat and intimidation will force them, to abandon their fight for equity and justice in the health sector.
Addressing a news conference in Abuja on the ongoing strike and government response, national chairman of the JOHESU, Biobelemoye Joy Josiah said while government has always promptly dealt with demands by medical doctors, applying Labour laws even when the NMA and the NARD were not registered trade unions, the government has resorted to threats and intimidation in handling issues relating to other health workers.
He said this was so because both the Ministers of Health as well as Labour and Employment who is supposed to be an arbiter are medical doctors, adding that government and medical doctors have gone into what he described as an unholy alliance to fight against other medical workers.
He said “the attention of the Joint Health Sector Unions has been drawn to a circular letter from the Federal Ministry of Health on the ongoing strike by JOHESU members and wish to once again to intimate the general public to bias, I justice and provocative antics of the federal ministry of health, particular items 1(iv, v) and 3 of the said letter directing that attendance register is opened during strike, enforcement of no work, no pay Policy and employment of locus staff respectively.
“While JOHESU is not averse to the protection of government t properties, we wish to reiterate that whenever the Medical and dental practitioners were on strike, no such rules as churned out in the circular are always given.
“We wish to draw the attention of President Muhammadu Buhari and the general public to the discriminatory, suppressive and oppressive attitude of the drivers of the Health Sector to all workers other than medical doctors in managing healthcare delivery in Nigeria.
“It is in record that patients are always hurriedly discharged and diverted to their private clinics whenever medical doctors are on strike and thereby preventing other health workers from performing their duties and nothing like locus, doctors employed to serve the public, nor registers opened to enforce co plain English while the policy of no work no pay has never been applied to the strike managers who call themselves medical doctors.
“Our attention has equally been drawn to an egoistic and self-serving press conference by the leadership of the Niger Medical Association (NMA) where they branded JOHESU An illegal body which should not be listened to by government t and the general public.
“It is wed foolhardy doe NMA to go to town with such fallacy when JOHESU, a conglomerate of five duly registered and recognized trade unions by law and has all rights and privileges to cater for the welfare of its, members, is being described as illegal. It is the case of a blind group of people who know nothing about trade unions and industrial relations practice, that wants to mislead the public on which is a legal or illegal trade union.
“While these unions have right to go on strike collectively or separately, the NMA and ARD have no such rights but they behave as trade unions and enjoy recognition and patronage of the federal ministry of health and sit with government to negotiate for their members under the watchful eyes of the federal ministry of Labour and Employment just because the Minister of Labour who should be an arbiter but choose to close his eyes to such illegality is himself a medical doctor.
“We call on our members nationwide to disregard all forms of threat or intimidation from government and ensure that services are withdrawn until our demands are met. We call on the government to ensure equity and justice in the health sector instead of putting the health of Nigerians in jeopardy by resolving the issues on the table rather than churning out threatening circulars on registers, Locum and no work no pay that have no universal application as a diversionary tactic.”
“We want the public to know that what is playing out appears to be a situation NMA and ARD on the one hand and government in the other has gone into an unholy alliance to fight against health workers right, even in a situation where doctors and other health workers remain the employees of the same government.
“We implore the government to make every effort to make the strike short-lived in the interest of the poor and vulnerable Nigerians and not engage in activities that will further infuriate health workers and exacerbate an already bad situation.” (The Nation)
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