COVID-19 Pandemic: Health Workers Mobilise For Nationwide Strike
Nigerian health workers on the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic have kicked against disparity in the hazard allowances paid by the Federal Government.
The workers are protesting the payment of 10 per cent to non-clinical staff while the clinical staff were paid 50 per cent of their salaries as COVID-19 hazard allowance by the government.
The health workers, under the umbrella body of the Joint Health Sector Unions and other Assembly of Health Professionals, threatened to shut down the health sector because of the disparity in the payment of hazards allowance to its members.
JOHESU membership include the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), and Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI).
National Chairman of JOHESU, Biobelemoye Josiah, who spoke during a visit by the leadership of National Association of Nigerian Students( NANS) led by its Vice President, Comrade Dominic Philip, to the headquarters of the union in Abuja on Tuesday, said its members see the “treatment as unfair,” warning that something urgent must be done to avert a shut down of the “fragile health system.”
Josiah said although the outcome of a meeting with the Federal Ministry of Health was being awaited, he said JOHESU members across the country are agitated by the disparity observed.
He added that the union would give a little time notification on its planned strike if the proposed meeting with government officials fail to address the issues raised by the union.
Josiah said: “Actually, we are very procedural, we don’t pray for it to fail, the issue is a simple issue, and for anybody that loves Nigeria may not want it to fail. But where the unthinkable happens, as procedural people, we’ll give a very short notice within the ambits of the law, then we will mobilise our people to prepare for a very pointed industrial action.
“If we don’t take the appropriate steps at the appropriate time, the health sector will be experiencing a shut down.”
In his remarks, Philip who is the Vice President of NANS said the student body would lead millions of its members to protest the ill-treatment of other health workers by the ministry of health.
He said: “We are fully aware of the fact that your union has been agitating across board payment of hazard allowances, we are aware of what is playing on in the health sector from whatever angle it is coming from, we as an organisation are saying no to that particular agreement or whatever decision that was taken at whatever level.
“If you desire us to match our armless battalion to the street to tell the FG that anything less than 50 percent of the minimum wage as the hazard allowance is also no to the Nigerian student.
“We see no reason why a particular section or some particular persons would now begin to say some persons would take less and some would take more.”