JOHESU Steps Down Strike

Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has resolved to stand down the strike threat it gave the federal government over outstanding salaries and allowances owed its members.

JOHESU had on September 2, issued a 15-day strike ultimatum to the federal government to resolve the dispute with the health workers.

This is as the health union berated the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) for working against the interest of other professional health unions.

However, at the expiration of the 15 days yesterday, JOHESU held an emergency National Executive Council (NEC) where it resolved to shelve the strike in deference to President Muhammadu Buhari’s appeal for understanding with the administration.In a communiqué issued at the end of the meeting Friday night, JOHESU “unanimously adopted a resolution to step down the notice of strike action due to expire mid-night 17th September, 2021 and issue a fresh notice of fifteen days.”

The communiqué signed by the Acting National Secretary of JOHESU, Comrade, M.O, Ajorutu, said the union received and examined reports of congresses held at various health facilities across the country on the mobilisation for the strike action due to commence 00hrs 18th September, 2021.

“NEC-in-Session after long hours of exhaustive of deliberations on issues surrounding the planned strike action resolved as follows:

“The Federal Ministry of Health should ensure speedy circularisation of all establishment and welfare matters as agreed during negotiation meetings.

“The federal government should ensure that the new data for the computation of the adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) for JOHESU members be completed and submitted to the “High Level Body” (HLB) of the FG not later than Wednesday, 22nd September, 2021 as agreed.

“NEC-in-Session urges the federal government to ensure that the “High Level Body” (HLB) complete and submit the computation of the adjusted CONHESS for inclusion in the 2022 budget within the 30th September, 2021 submission window.

“ Finally, NEC-in-Session unanimously adopts a resolution to step down the notice of strike action due to expire mid-night 17th September, 2021 and issue a fresh notice of fifteen days”.

JOHESU had earlier berated the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) for allegedly undermining the interest of its members’ demand for improved welfare conditions.

In a letter to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, JOHESU Chairman, Comrade Bio Josiah, said “NMA decided to stand the truth on the head by claiming that JOHESU attempted to seek pay parity at the NICN but failed in 2018,” whereas it had been working against other health workers’ welfare demands.

The letter, titled, ‘Re: Notice of 15-Day Ultimatum and Commencement of an Indefinite Strike Action by JOHESU: Matters Arising,’ in part reads, “The National Secretariat of JOHESU has been inundated with a recent memo of the NMA to the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment with regards to some welfare demands for our members.

“As usual, the childish tirades of the NMA were laden with evil chicanery and antagonism in a scenario that epitomises the unwholesome meddlesomeness of the idle, ignorant and very inexperienced crop of representatives who lead the NMA.

“After a careful analysis of the submissions of the NMA, we wish to submit that in a most sympathetic display of emotive theatrics, the NMA decided to stand the truth on the head by claiming that JOHESU attempted to seek pay parity at the NICN but failed in 2018. In reality, however, the representatives of NMA failed because they are too consumed in vengeance to appreciate that JOHESU was simply minding her business albeit lawfully by requesting the FG to respect the spirit of its CBA with JOHESU in 2014 which compels the FG to adjust its wages anytime government adjusts the wages of the beneficiaries of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) scale. This was sequel to understandings at the heart of the rules of engagement the FG and JOHESU had in 2009 which the 2014 CBA simply amplified.

“The NMA often suggests that the golden rule in healthcare in Nigeria remains that anything it does not endorse does not exist. If the NMA suddenly says it is not aware that residency training which it has tried to frustrate in the FHIs exist, then JOHESU wishes to educate them that as far back as July, 2015, the FMOH issued a Residency Training circular for pharmacists undergoing post-graduate training at the West Africa Post-Graduate College of Pharmacists,” he submitted.

He demanded NMA to substantiate the claim that there are no Consultants in Pharmacy. “We at JOHESU openly challenge the clueless NMA hierarchy to show the world evidence-based data that we do not have consultants in Pharmacy, Nursing, Radiography, Physiotherapy and Medical Laboratory Science.”

“The NMA denies its members in the core civil service enjoy the best wages and service conditions and craftily shifts attention to the NNPC and CBN. Staff of some parastatals in the public service like NNPC, CBN, NPA and a few others are on a special salary scale (consolidated) which is out of the realm of the vintage civil service. Is the NMA not however aware that physicians work in these places?

“In the core civil service which was the object of reference of JOHESU, the physician has been elevated to king status because his entry point is GL 10 for housemanship and GL 13 after Youth Service. For any graduate outside the realm of a health professional to make GL 13 in the civil service, it will take at least 12 years after youth service, so we stand by our claims.

“Many of our members believe that we were short-changed in 2018 because the ministers-in-charge of health are kith and kin with the NMA dynasty as they share the same professional DNA. JOHESU leadership will give your ministry another opportunity to clean this stinking Augean stable in the public interest.”

He further said: “These NMA leaders who do not understand many things apart from probably core medical practice need tutelage in basic human relationship management, routine administration and the principle of legal systems so that their expert pontification as itinerant quacks can be terminated.

“Today as it stands, JOHESU and the FG are forced to go back to the negotiating table because of the rulings of the NICN.

“The NMA is not the employer of JOHESU members so its busybody propensities remain unexplainable. We therefore urge the Hon. Minister to dismiss the tendencies of these despots and tyrants because of the nuisance value it constitutes.”

Josiah accused the federal government of aiding the mischievous posture of NMA which contends with members of the health constituency through its appointments, policy direction and other dictates of due process which display no courtesies for the rights, privileges and liberties of other players in the health sector.

“The current events and attitude of the NMA will be a test case to see what the FG is prepared to do as it tackles our demands,” he said.