As the crisis in the health sector deepens, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), has announced that its members will embark on an indefi nite strike from September 20, 2017, if the Federal Government fails to attend to its demands. Th e announcement comes as the government continues negotiations with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), to end their strike, which has lingered for 10 days.
According to the union, the strike action tagged: ‘Operation Alligator Bite’, is an attempt to force the Federal Government to attend to its concerns about unfair treatment. Th e union has long lamented that its members were being subjected to discrimination and industrial marginalisation in the health sector. In a statement signed by the National President, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna and its National General Secretary, Com. O.A Obisessan, the union accused the Health and Labour ministries of conspiracy against the unions, and issued a 23-point demand. Th e union’s demands include payment of arrears of specialist allowances and upgrade of their members due for promotion, abolition of scale to scale promotion, and Payment of outstanding arrears promotion. Others include autonomy for Teaching and Specialist Hospitals in the country, implementation of all Court judgements, review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years as done for the Tertiary Education Sector, among other issues.
Th e union said all the “demands must be met before midnight of Wednesday, September 20th 2017.” Meanwhile, the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Federal Health Institution Sector (NANNMFHI), have called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency in the health sector. Th e association made the call in a statement issued by its National Public Relation Offi cer, Aliyu Shehu, in Abuja. It said that an emergency approach was needed to resolve the issues that bother on health administration, practice, headship, representation, benefi ts and welfare of all stakeholders in the industry. It noted that the resolution of issues in contention with members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), would open up a chain of industrial actions by other unions and associations in the health industry.
Th e Association who also issued a strike notice to the government, said the issues it presented to the Federal Ministries of Health and Labour were ignored, despite court judgments. Th e association listed some of their demands to include “chronic shortage of both general and specialised manpower in the various institutions, inadequate provision of medical consumables and services, stagnation, re-designation and demotion of our members.” It also called for restoration of payment of teaching allowance to deserving members and payment of arrears owed from 2011 to date in most hospitals. It added that the union had engaged the two federal ministries of health and labour as well as other relevant agencies severally on the above issues. NANNM therefore called on the government to do theneedful to avoid industrial disharmony, as “the patience ofits members was already overtaxed.”