Striking health workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions have accused the Federal Government of neglect of the health sector. They said that the neglect of the sector was responsible for the delay in the implementation of the agreements the government had with the heath workers’ union.
The health workers had on Tuesday protested at the premises of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, carrying placards with various inscriptions, including “FG Save the Health Sector From Collapse” and “FG Must Implement Its Agreements.”
The aggrieved workers, who were mostly nurses, pharmacists, record officers and laboratory scientists, accused the Federal Government of not prioritising their needs due to the forthcoming February elections in the country. According to the Chairman of the LUTH chapter of the National Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists, Mr. Adefemi Adegoke, the Federal Government has not met with JOHESU this year for any dialogue.
Adegoke said, “The last meeting JOHESU had with the Federal Government was on December 7, 2014 and they asked for two weeks for them to generate circulars to the appropriate agencies to ensure that the agreements are implemented. “Till now, we have not heard from them. We know that President Goodluck Jonathan is campaigning ahead of the elections, but government must know that lives that are being lost in public hospitals each day due to the two months of strike are more important than votes.”
Chairman of the LUTH chapter of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Mr. Olugbenga Ajala, warned that the Federal Government might meet a collapsed sector after the February elections if the government failed to resolve the labour disputes that had led to the breakdown of health services in about 50 federal health institutions across the country. Ajala said, “We are asking that they promote our members who have been stagnated for 14 years on a level. We are asking that health workers wage structure be reviewed. We cannot be rubbished by any group in this sector because we form more than 70 per cent of the workforce in the health sector. “We are asking that the Federal Government address needless deaths in its hospitals and put an end to this strike before the elections.”
Members of JOHESU have been on an indefinite strike since October 16, 2014 to protest against the non-implementation of collective bargain agreement and Memorandum of Understanding between the union and the Federal Government and the non-implementation of the 2010 judgment of National Industrial Court. The NIC had ruled that health workers on CONHESS 14 should be promoted to CONHESS 15. Any of the workers promoted to CONHESS 15 would automatically assume a director status. The Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals said that members of the union were ready to call off their three-month-old strike provided the government would be ready to address the issues which forced the union to embark on the indefinite strike.