Healthcare services in the country may deteriorate further as the Joint Health Workers’ Union (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professionals (AHPA) resolves to embark on industrial strike if the federal government fails to heed its demand on the expiration of a 15-day ultimatum on May 25.
Already, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have embarked on a five-day warning strike and gave the federal government May 29, 2023 to meet their demands.
The health professional group had served a notice of strike with effect from May 10 following what they described as the federal government’s deliberate frustrating inconsistency in the adjustment of CONHESS salary scale for non-Physician health workers.
In a letter titled: “Notice Of 15 Days Strike Ultimatum” signed by the acting national secretary of JOHESU, Comrade Mathew Ajorutu, at the end of an emergency NEC meeting in Abuja, the association commended the Technical Committee Report of the Federal Government on the adjustment of CONHESS and demanded its full implementation in tandem with all-known tenets of fairness and justice as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
‘’JOHESU NEC condemned albeit vehemently the attempts by the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in the last 14 years under the watch of three physician health ministers including Prof. Christian Chukwu, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Dr. Osagie Enahire to frustrate as well as out rightly jeopardise the adjustment of CONHESS.’’
JOHESU claimed that ‘’recent communication from the FMoH attempted to sabotage the laudable report of the Technical Committee on the Adjustment of CONHESS as was done for the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), by claiming its implementation would distort existing CONMESS relativity with CONHESS.
“For the records, the membership of the Technical Committee had representations from the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FML&E), Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS), Office of the Head of Service of the Federation, Budget Office, JOHESU/AHPA, FMoH & National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC).
JOHESU and AHPA also expressed concern that ‘’the negotiated peculiar allowance between the Federal Government and JOHESU Leadership as the proposed 25% review on CONHESS appears to be a clandestine plot of the FMoH and its Nigeria Medical Association(NMA) allies to widen the relativity in the CONHESS and CONMESS.’’
They frowned at what it described as ‘’gutter tactics employed by the FMoH to negate the due process employed in the approval of Consultant Cadre for Pharmacists in the Civil Service of the Federation.’’
The associations noted with dismay the “tendency of the Federal Ministry of Health to renege from agreed terms and rules of our engagement which had emphasised non-discrimination on whatever basis in the wages and benefit packages of health workers in Nigeria.’’
Some of the demands they listed include the adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as agreed in terms of the settlement (TOS) of September 30, 2017, (which has lingered since January 2, 2014), payment of peculiar allowance to health workers under the aegis of JOHESU/AHPA; immediate and unconditional implementation of the Consultant Cadre circular of Pharmacist in all federal health institutions (FHIs); and the payment of all withheld salaries of JOHESU/AHPA members in Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Owerri, the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH), the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and their withheld April and May 2018 salaries.
The demands also include the speedy adjustment of retirement age from 60 to 65 years and the exclusion of some health workers in the payment of new hazard allowance and the payment of COVID-19 allowance balance.
Ajorutu explained that the associations were ‘’compelled to issue a 15-day ultimatum to press for the reflection of age long demands as well as other contemporary ones as enumerated.’’