Joint Health Sector Unions Launch Indefinite Nationwide Strike, Seeking Improved Working Conditions and Salary Adjustments

Joint Health Sector Unions Launch Indefinite Nationwide Strike, Seeking Improved Working Conditions and Salary Adjustments

In an unprecedented move, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) along with the Assembly of Health Care Professional Association have decided to set their collective memberships on a course of unending industrial action.

Dr. Obinna Ogbonna, serving in his capacity as the National Vice President of JOHESU, delivered this ground-shaking announcement in a press conference convened in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on Thursday. JOHESU is a major consortium of health workers‘ organizations and unions, with its broad umbrella encompassing an array of health professionals from institutions such as the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, as well as the Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, and the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals.

This escalating action is rooted in a number of demands posed by the health workers, which they see as essential to the continuation of their services. Key among these is the immediate sanction and application of the Technical Committee report concerning the adjustment of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) by the Federal Government. They are also advocating for prompt compensation for the discrepancy and inadequacies noted in the COVID-19 hazard/inducement allowances provided to health workers stationed in federal health institutions.

Additionally, they demand the acknowledgment and remuneration of auxiliary health workers in hospital facilities with the new hazard allowance, the allowance of unique and specific allowances for health workers under the banners of JOHESU/AHPA, and unconditional implementation of the pharmacist consultant cadre.

The health workers have also raised their voices in the hope of achieving unconditional payment of all withheld wages from several health institutions such as Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Jos University Teaching Hospital, and Lagos University Teaching Hospital. Moreover, they seek a swift change in the retirement age for health professionals from 60 to 65 years and 70 years for consultants.

A pivotal point to consider is that Joint Health Sector Unions leadership had already warned the Federal Government, in a letter dated May 9, 2023, that a 15-day ultimatum had been set due to alleged inconsistencies and lack of fair play on the part of the government in the ongoing negotiations regarding adjustments to the Consolidated Health Salary Structure for health workers.

Dr. Ogbonna conveyed, “In view of the Federal Ministry of Health’s dismissive, prejudiced, and lackadaisical stance against JOHESU members, and following the resolution of the expanded National Executive Council meeting of JOHESU held on Monday, May 8, 2023, we hereby instruct our members working in federal health institutions across the nation to cease their services indefinitely starting from midnight of Thursday, May 25, 2023.”

Ogbonna further stated, “Given that the Federal Government has not yet fulfilled these demands, the JOHESU National Executive Council has ordered its members to embark on an indefinite strike action, effective immediately after the ultimatum expires at midnight on May 25, 2023.”

Despite this drastic action, he assured that the Joint Health Sector Unions remains committed to collaborating with the government and key stakeholders to enhance the healthcare system through necessary reforms in the public interest.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, was sought for a response to the unfolding situation. He requested that a text message detailing the matter be sent to him. At the time this report was filed, there had been no response from the Minister.

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