Breaking News

JOHESU Would Not Renege Until Our Demands Are Met – Adekunle

JOHESU Would Not Renege Until Our Demands Are Met – Adekunle
ndic advert

As Health workers in the country under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) begins an indefinite strike as a result of non-implementation of the agreement reached with the Federal Government.

Comrade Martin Adekunle the General Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and a member of the affiliate unions affiliated to the Joint Health sector Union of Nigeria in this Exclusive interview with, AljazirahNigeria Business Editor Cyril Ogar captures the feeling of the general secretary on the plight of health workers.

https://aljazirahnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/cbn-keep-the-naira-clean.gif

May I know more of you

I’m Comrade Martin Adekunle the GENERAL Secretary of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) an affiliate of the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria and a member of the affiliate unions affiliated to the Joint Health Sector Union of Nigeria. My union is part of the warning strike that ended on September 21. 2020. We are committed to health care service delivery in the country and of course JOHESU is part of a tradition to have a coalition, it’s what is called a coalition-building platform that advances the welfare of members and workers generally.

We have 5 unions that makeup JOHESU, the Medical and Health Workers Unions of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAM), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutes (NASU).

JOHESU presented their demands to the Federal government, a lot of negotiation took place in the process and of course, this demand was our product of collective agreement and product of core judgment.

Sir what were the grievances of JOHESU that necessitated the warning strike?

JOHESU had, in 2018 suspended ‎a nationwide strike after signing a memorandum of terms of settlement, which was to be implemented within five weeks, was reached with the Federal Government.

This demand has to do with the welfare of JOHESU members across all health facilities in the country, specifically the federal government health institutions of which the government has reneged to meet this demand even after several negotiations.

A trade dispute was declared and the federal government was given 15days ultimatum as required by law because the trade union act 2004 law of federation of Nigeria made provision for the procedure to declare industrial action or a trade dispute of which JOHESU complied with the full mandate of the affiliate unions which had their expanded NEC meeting convened and adopted the resolution that a 15days notice should be issued and on the expiration, the expanded NEC meeting of JOHESU again comprising of all these affiliate unions also met to declare a 7day warning strike.

This demand has to do with the welfare of JOHESU members across all health facilities in the country, specifically the federal government health institutions of which the government has reneged to meet this demand even after several negotiations.

A trade dispute was declared and federal government was given 15days ultimatum as required by law because the trade union act 2004 law of federation of Nigeria made provision for the procedure to declare industrial action or a trade dispute of which JOHESU complied with the full mandate of the affiliate unions which had their expanded NEC meeting convened and adopted the resolution that a 15days notice should be issued and on the expiration, the expanded NEC meeting of JOHESU again comprising of all these affiliate unions also met to declare a 7day warning strike.

On the 21st of April, 2020, JOHESU under the platform of these 5 unions and the assembly of healthcare professional association of Nigeria met with the fed govt and an agreement (MOU) was reached.

At the memorandum of understanding, the first paragraph of it, Section A, states that the N5,000 Naira hitherto received by health workers as hazard allowance will be set aside in its place 50% of the basic salaries of all health workers will be paid as special covid19 hazard/inducement allowance and the agreement was signed by the federal government team led by the Hon. Minister of labour, Dr. Chris Ngige, of course, we had also the Min. of Health represented by the Perm. Sec. of two ministries, the NMA was also part of the agreement and that was the issue that has to do with the payment of covid19 funds.

So when the payment was made for April and May 2020, it was discovered by JHUS that some members were paid less; some received 50percent, while some received 10% and some did not receive at all contrary to the agreement on the 24th of April.

JOHESU drew the attention of the Fed. Min. of Health and the appropriate authorities like the office of the Accountant General of the federation, it was acknowledged even by the Ministry of Health that there was a shortfall in the payment and those that received 10% should have received 50% and that they will correct it and get across to the appropriate paying authorities.

But to our surprise, when the payment for June started, the same thing repeated itself and some health workers were excluded even those who were on the frontline fighting COVID-19, those in isolation centres, testing and the laboratories were excluded.

We drew their attention, we told them; when all efforts to get the federal government attention failed on this and four other major demands, like they withheld salaries of April and May 2018, when the health workers went on strike and no-work no-pay clause was evoked to withhold the salaries of April and May 2018 of which the same was not done to the medical doctors that went on strike even severally before, during and after that, even until recently, their salaries have not been withheld, for JOHESU members who went on strike since 2018, even though they met the requirement of the law to embark on that strike, fed govt withheld April and May salaries which is part of our demand.

Of course, there is a consent judgement by the National Industrial Court that that salary should be paid, and then another thing is the adjustment of the consolidated health salary scales, there was an adjustment of the salary scale for medical doctors and other health professionals.

That of medical doctors is CONMESS (Consolidated Medical Salary Scale) that has been implemented and fully paid to headquarters for medical practitioners but for health professionals under JOHESU, up till today that has not been done and that is the disparity we want to be corrected.

Another thing has to do with the judgement of the NIC that borders on consultancy that borders on some specialist allowance and every other issue that a judgement has been pronounced on and we want the fed govt to implement them.

Lastly, there should be total overhauling in the deficit we are seeing in the health infrastructure and that health workers should be adequately equipped with PPEs to be safe and protected against the covid19 virus.

And dichotomy in the health sectors where medical doctors are meant to be superior to every profession, you know in the workplace, work is complimentary when everyone is as important as the other whether the gateman, the cleaner etc., everybody works together.

The health professionals especially in our public health institutions are not accorded the needed respect that should take place in terms of ensuring that they give them recognition even in the management of the institutions.

Will JOHESU be part of the NLC planned strike?

The industrial action that is to take place on Monday, September 28, 2020, has to do with the major economic hardship that the system has imposed on workers and masses of this country as a result of the increment in PMS and electricity tariff among other pressing issues affecting workers in this country including that of JOHESU.

In industrial relations, there’s what we call social dialogue which is one of the weapons that employers and employees can adopt to address issues that have to do with work-related and the welfare of workers.

What the government can do is to open up, though there’s a discussion ongoing which is deadlocked between the NLC and the TUC, of course, some affiliates of JHUS are affiliates of NLC and TUC respectively.

Labor has insisted that the government should revert to the status quo, the previous price of PMS and electricity should be maintained, then the government should open up dialogue, let there be consultations with all stakeholders, it’s not only the organized labour. You have to meet with traders, the market women, artisans who have their representatives, so there are ways you can reach out, let all stakeholders come together and judge all of these issues.

Will the NLCL still embark on the industrial action despite the Court injunction?

There will always be injunctions, those are the things we call black market Judgment. I don’t know how that will affect the already organized segment of the civil society including labour who have the right in the Constitution to exercise their right to peaceful possession and right to peaceful assembly and to withdraw their services if they are not being treated well.

We should all follow due process, this thing is beyond any court injunction, what we need now is dialogue. We have organs of the union, consultations are ongoing, so a lot of discussions are ongoing, labour will know the appropriate action to take but of course, we would conduct ourselves within the context of the laws and also ensure that the rights and privileges of Nigerians workers and civil populace are not trampled upon.

What are your parting words to Nigerians regarding the industrial action

Nigerians should brace up and comply with the union order which I think is the people’s mandate. We are law-abiding citizens and I frown at it especially when the government hides under the respect of the court to intimidate and harass unions fighting for their welfare. This govt has failed us. I believe in the genuine growth and development of Nigeria.

Aljazirahnews

Also Read:  “Why President Buhari, APC still represent the best option for Nigerians,'' says Hon. Tayo Agbaje

Tags assigned to this article:
JOHESUNUAHPTUC