Sequel to the federal government’s announcement of a rise in the hazard allowances of health workers, irrespective of their rank and professional callings, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) have called for the immediate redress of the inconsistencies in the new circular on “Hazard Allowances for the Health Workers on CONHESS”.
The acting secretary of JOHESU, Comrade Matthew Ajurotu, who expressed gratitude of the bodies to the government, however, faulted the restrictive clause in the circular approving the payment which excluded certain categories of health workers from being paid the hazard allowance.
He said, “JOHESU/AHPA believes it was impossible for government at all levels to pay commensurate hazard allowances to all cadres of health workers, given the lean economy the federal government continues to project.
‘’JOHESU/APHA strongly protests the divisive and discriminatory lexicons of ‘clinical and non-clinical staff’ which was introduced in the new NSIWC circular because none of the staff who are on the CONHESS AND CONMESS structures was designed as ‘clinical and non-clinical’ in their original employment terms.
In a statement, he issued yesterday, Ajurotu hinged union’s position on the fact that nothing has changed in the condition precedent to the employment of the various cadres of health workers in the last 12 years to warrant discrimination in the payment of their hazard allowances.
He said based on earlier negotiations, the minimum benchmark and demand of JOHESU is that all health workers would earn the same hazard allowances based on their categorisation as junior and senior staff. “This was the basis of the federal government’s original proposal of N12,500 and N25,000 to junior and senior cadres in the health sector,” Ajurotu stated.
The JOHESU/AHPA team had canvassed that some players in other less critical sectors already earned a minimum of N30,000 as hazard allowance that compelled the government to consider an increase from N12,500 and N25,000 respectively to N16,000 and N32,000 for health workers in view of the more sensitive nature of the health sector.
Ajirotu said, “Our members were short-changed as our philosophy for equity and equality which were the watchwords in the payment of hazard allowances for over twelve years were negated in the computation of the final figure reflected by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) circular released a few days ago.”
‘’We hasten to remind the FG once again that the 1999 Federal Constitution prohibits discrimination against citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which leaves us with no choice than to insist on a maintenance of the credible status-quo which places premium on all stakeholders on the two salary scales as Veritable Health Workers in Nigeria.
According to him, “These workers include, Environmental Health Officers, Scientific Officers, Social Health Workers’, Animal Health Workers’ Water/Sanitation, Port Health, etc, in preventive & educational/research health services institutions & departments/cadres that are not practiced in typical hospital setting but are part of the three pronged; Primary, Secondary and Teaching/Rehabilitative or Preventive, Curative & Teaching/Rehabilitative health sectors that together, strive to ensure Universal Health Coverage(UHC).”
He explained that JOHESU’s observations are not in any way an expression of ingratitude to the Federal Government, nor disrespect or an attempt to question the government’s administrative or managerial authority; but were raised to avoid the loophole and omissions which was created in previous circulars for payment of the hazard allowance.