Health workers in the country under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), will today hold its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting with a view to deciding if to finally call off its industrial action. The union had last Saturday after a conciliatory meeting with the federal government agreed to suspend the strike “in principle,” pending the meeting of its NEC today.
There were however worries in some quarters that the NEC of the Union may vote against ending the strike. This followed the inability of the minister of health who was not present at Saturday’s meeting to sign the agreement reached. The feelings amongst the five unions that made up JOHESU is that there is nothing to report to the NEC meetings as long as the minister of health fails to sign the negotiated terms. Though, the Chairman of JOHESU, Josiah Biobelemoye, ruled out such a scenario saying the government has demonstrated the goodwill that is needed to ensure implementation of the agreement. But feelers from some members of the unions indicated that they were adamant that the ministry of health being the line-ministry that would implement the terms of agreement. They argued that it is incumbent on the minister of health to sign the agreement and to demonstrate Federal Government commitment towards the full implementation of the agreement. LEADERSHIP recalled that the health minister was not present at the conciliatory meeting on Saturday, an action which sparked suspicion among the union. Josiah without being specific told a news conference on Sunday that they were likely to call off the strike today. That decision he said is however, hinged on the signing of a circular by the government on or before today. He said, “There are certain things we expect the government to do between now and Tuesday and once that is done, the strike will be officially called off and our members will be directed to resume work immediately”. The JOHESU president said the union is not unaware of the sufferings of Nigerians as a result of the strike, but said the government should be held responsible It would be recalled that the union and the federal government at last Saturday’smeeting signed an agreement which led to the partial suspension of the strike. According to the terms of agreement reached, it was agreed that the Federal Ministry of Health will meet with the various regulatory bodies within two weeks with a view to work out the modalities for the central placement of other professionals. A circular for the implementation of the appointment of nurses’ interns is scheduled to be released within one week. On the upward adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), the meeting agreed that Federal Government be given five weeks within which to release implementation circular on the subject matter.