The Federal Government of Nigeria has kicked against the action of health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) after they began their planned nationwide strike, to press home their demands.
The action took effect at 12 a.m on Monday, September 14.
JOHESU President Josiah Biobelemoye, who confirmed the strike to newsmen, said the health workers had given the Federal government a 14-day notice of the impending strike but they failed to meet their demands.
Biobelemoye said the demands of the health workers include COVID-19 hazard allowance; withheld salaries; non-adjustment of the CONHESS salary structure; implementation of several court judgments; and repairing of several decaying health structure and infrastructure across the country.
Biobelemoye said a meeting held with the Federal government on Sunday, September 13, ended in a deadlock, so all health workers are to down tools beginning from today.
‘The 15-day ultimatum still subsists, and with effect from midnight of Sept. 13, 2020, our members shall withdraw their services due to the government’s inability to meet their demands,” he said.
However, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has described the strike by the health workers as illegal and ill-timed. In a statement released by its Deputy Director of Press and Public Relations, Charles Akpan, the Ministry directed JOHESU to shelve the planned strike, saying going ahead with it would be illegal.
The statement titled, ‘FG declares JOHESU strike is unnecessary, ill-timed and illegal’, partly read:
“Parties in disputes are expected not to arm-twist, intimidate or foist helplessness on the other party while negotiations are ongoing as per sections 8 and 18 the of Trade Dispute Act 2004 barring any strike when the matters are before a conciliator and undergoing conciliation.
“Any strike now is inimical to an equable settlement of the dispute, bearing in mind, especially, that this is a grave period of a pandemic where the Federal Government has spent about N20 billion to pay April/May 2020 and an additional N8.9b for June 2020 on COVID-19 hazard and inducement allowances, respectively, to all categories of health workers that are mainly JOHESU members.”