A screengrab shows JOHESU President, Biobelemonye Josiah, and other union leaders at a meeting with the government in Abuja on September 7, 2021.
Members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) have asked the Federal Government to address the issues raised by the union.
At a meeting with the government on Tuesday, JOHESU President, Biobelemonye Josiah, lamented that despite the patience of the health workers, not one of their demands has been met by the government.
“We listed them (the issues) and on several occasions, we presented these items over and over,” he said on Tuesday in Abuja at an emergency meeting of the government and JOHESU.
“Our last strike was on September 13, 2020. Six days from now, it will be one year and that shows that we are patient and we thought that within this period, at least the five issues, even, if not all the 16 (issues raised), would have been dealt with.
“But as we speak, not even one has been dealt with.”
According to Josiah, many of the concerns raised by the health workers are issues that have been discussed over and over.
He described JOHESU as “the patient dog of the health system” and that the body believes that going on strike is a painful way to resolve industrial disputes, considering its effect on the greater population of Nigerians.
The union leader regretted that while they try as much as they can to avoid going on strike, they have been unlucky to be positively attended to by the government.
“Many of the issues have lingered, some from 2014. Then the most vexing ones; we have 16 issues that we entered into an agreement (about with the government) on September 30, 2017.
Josiah explained that, as a listening body, in reaction to interventions including by the National Assembly, JOHESU provided a minimum of five issues that should be tackled.
“We hope that we will be able to conclude the major issues before the ultimatum we have given,” he said, adding, “We are also pleading with the government to have that sensitivity that we should not be led into temptation.”
‘We Not Owing’
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, presided over the meeting convened to avert another strike in the nation’s health sector.
In his remarks, he urged the union to continue to show understanding with the government and gave an assurance that the five critical issues raised would be looked into.
According to the minister, the claim of the non-payment of salaries by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is false.
He also demanded that those responsible for the illegal recruitment of doctors into the government workforce be made to face the consequence of their actions.
“Nobody is owed monthly salaries; the doctors say that their members are owed monthly salaries.
“Those owed monthly salaries among the doctors are those who are illegally recruited. Those people who even did illegal recruitment should be punished severely,” he said.