The industrial action by members of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) yesterday took a new dimension as the striking health workers stormed Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. They vowed to continue the over three months strike, until the government responds to their demands.
The workers, led by the National President of the Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy, Dr Taiwo Oyewumi of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, declared that President Goodluck Jonathan had been fed with lies on the strike.
Adewumi warned the Federal Government not to withhold the salaries of the striking workers, saying such method would aggravate the situation. Many lives, he said, have been lost, while all government hospitals have been deserted, leaving patients in agony. Addressing reporters at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Adewumi said the workers were aware of the plan to frustrate their efforts to press home their demands. He said the workers were eager to return to work but were yet to receive the Federal Government’s circular that would formalise the agreements reached. “We are aware of the effect of the strike. This is because hospital services require team work. No profession can stand on its own unless the teams work together as a unit.
“The eight-point demands of JOHESU and Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals are still the same but it is disappointing that the government has refused to do the right thing. “Since the declaration, there have been meetings with government representatives. Six meetings were held between October 15 and December 24, last year. “The minister of Labour and Productivity, who presided over the December 22 meeting, promised to meet President Goodluck Jonathan to get approval leading to the issuance of circulars on the said matters. “Of the 10 circulars we are expecting, only one was issued which is the one concerning consultant status of other health professionals. We are ready to call off the strike but it seems the President is being fed with wrong information on the effect of the strike.”
Adewumi said the workers have rejected some of the recommendations of the Yayale Ahmed Report because some of the issues raised were matters pending in court. “The Yayale Ahmed Report duplicated duties and that is one of the reasons why we rejected it. We rejected the office of the Surgeon General so there is no reason for the report to introduce or recommend it again.”