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Health workers begin indefinite strike

Barely three days after members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors resumed from their five-day warning strike, the Joint Health Sector Unions and the Assembly of Health Care Professional Association commenced an indefinite strike.

The National Vice President of JOHESU, Dr Obinna Ogbonna, said this at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

The leadership of JOHESU had in a letter dated May 9, 2023, issued a 15-day ultimatum to the Federal Government over alleged inconsistencies of the government in the ongoing negotiations to adjust the Consolidated Health Salary Structure for health workers on their platforms.

The 15-day ultimatum commenced on May 10, 2023, and will expire at midnight on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.

JOHESU is the umbrella body of health workers’ unions and associations, including the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, and Senior Staff Association of Universities’ Teaching Hospitals Research Institutes and Associated Institutions, and AHPA.

The health workers are demanding the immediate approval and implementation of the Technical Committee report on CONHESS adjustment by FG; immediate payment of the omission and Shortfall in the COVID-19 hazard/inducement allowances of affected health workers in the Federal Health Institutions and recognition of health workers in non-core hospital facilities in the payment of new hazard allowance; payment and inculcation of peculiar allowances to health workers under the aegis of JOHESU/AHPA.

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The other demands are the immediate and unconditional implementation of the Pharmacist Consultant cadre, unconditional payment of all withheld salaries of Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Jos University Teaching Hospital, and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, and April and May 2018 salaries of members at NOFIC, Azare; and the speedy Implementation of the Increase in Retirement Age from 60 to 65 years and 70 years for Consultants in the health professions.

Speaking at the briefing, Dr Obinna said, “Consequent upon the nonchalant, bias and lackadaisical attitude of the Federal Ministry of Health against JOHESU members and the resolution of the expanded National Executive Council meeting of the JOHESU held on Monday, May 8, 2023, our members in Federal Health Institutions nationwide are hereby directed to withdraw their services indefinitely commencing from 00:00 hour on Thursday, May 25, 2023.

“It becomes imperative to inform you that since the Federal Government is yet to meet these demands, our members have been directed by the JOHESU National Executive Council to proceed on an indefinite strike action upon expiration of the ultimatum by midnight of May 25, 2023.”

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He, however, said, the union is committed to working with the government and stakeholders to improve the health system with necessary reforms in public interest.

Recall that NARD embarked on its warning strike on Wednesday, May 17, and ended it on Monday, May 22, at 8am.

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