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Minister Says Striking Health Workers Won’t Be Paid Salaries For Period Of Strike

JOHESU Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has asked the governing boards of federal tertiary health institutions to order members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), who have been on nation-wide strike to go back to work even as he said that the principle of no-work-no-pay will be applied.

According to the minister, everyone who participated in the strike would not be paid for the period of the strike even if the strike is called off.

These were contained in a statement issued yesterday, Tuesday, by the Director, Media and Public Relations to the minister, Boade Akinola.

The minister emphasized that anyone who fails to resume after the directives of the governing boards, would be considered to have absconded from duty without leave, adding that it will be regarded as a serious misconduct in line with the Public Service rule 030413.

The health workers across secondary and tertiary health institutions in the country have been on strike in the past 41 days, demanding, among others, increment in salary and increase in retirement age of health workers. They accused the minister, who is a medical doctor of bias; and called for his sack.

This followed the threat by doctors that should the government heed the demands of JOHESU, doctors would commence a nationwide strike.

The workers strike has paralysed health service delivery across most health institutions. Doctors have been the only health professionals attending to patients. This, however has not been effective causing most ill people to seek medical attention at private health institutions.

Meanwhile, JOHESU’s President, Comrade Biobelemoye Josiah had alerted members of moves by the Federal Government to proscribe the union if it fails to suspend its ongoing strike.

Speaking at an emergency consultation meeting of all state and zonal leaders held in Abuja on Monday, he said that the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige, issued the threat at a reconciliation meeting with the union last week.

He said that while the health workers were willing to suspend their industrial action, the federal government must, however, demonstrate sincerity of purpose in the processes activated towards achieving a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

He also accused the Incorporated Trustees of Kingdom Human Rights Foundation (KHRFI) of obtaining an order directing the JOHESU to suspend its industrial action through deceptive means.

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Josiah said that the counsel to KHRFI, Barr. Nnamdi Okere, lied to the National Industrial Court that JOHESU was not involved in any reconciliation/negotiation process, and for that reason, there was no resolution to the industrial dispute in sight.

Based on that false claim, the JOHESU President said, the court ordered the health workers to suspend the strike and attend any reconciliation process that may be put in place by the Federal government.

“Last Tuesday, at a meeting with the negotiators and mediators from the Federal Government’s side, rather than talking meaningfully on how to have the disputes resolved, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, said we should stop the strike based on the order of the National Industrial Court.

“But we told him that as we speak, we have not been served the court order; we have not seen the court documents. He later threatened to have us proscribed, if we don’t obey the court order and suspend our strike.

“Before that meeting, we sent out a message asking them to tell the court to send a bailiff to serve us the order. But, that didn’t happen.

“We are not afraid to be served the court order, because even the constitution gives us the right to challenge the order. But we were not served until 5:39pm last Friday.

“We want Nigerians to know about the level of dishonesty and insincerity of the government team, who are bent on giving us a bad name to have us destroyed.

“Even the NGO that went to court misled the Judge. It said that there was no reconciliation cum negotiating team in place. But such a team is in place and have met with us over five times before the court order was obtained.”

The highpoint of the meeting was a voice vote by delegates at the meeting to continue the strike until their demands are met. [myad]