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Health Workers Threaten NationWide Strike

Th e Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), has threatened to shut down medical health facilities across the country, over federal government’s failure to implement a collective agreement reached with the union on salary adjustment, privatisation and Public Private Partnership policies of the government in the sector. National President of MHWUN, Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah made the disclosure in Abuja, during a oneday familiarisation visit to the union’s national headquarters, by President, Nigeria labour Congress, Comrade Ayuba Wabba. He said a joint meeting of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) will be summoned to deliberate on the matter. While speaking on the challenges being faced by the health workers and their plan to confront the struggle, Josiah said the crisis will “lead to a complete shutdown of the health system.”, warning that government must arrest the situation before it gets out of hand. He told Comrade Ayuba who was his predecessor in offi ce, and his delegation that the MoU signed since 2014 on far reaching issues in the sector, were almost denied by the health ministry. Th e MHWUN president however urged the NLC leadership and other wellmeaning Nigerians to prevail on the matter, because when such action is taken, the Nigerians masses would suff er. “In 2014, you fought the battle for salary adjustment, they have adjusted for the medical doctors but the Memorandum of Understanding you signed with them, they were almost denying them. Th e Federal Ministry of Health almost denied that such did not take place until, we were able to provide the document. “But as we speak now , they have not adjusted the salary for us and it has caused serious ripples within the health system and sooner or later, it might lead to a complete shutdown of the health system because when JOHESU meets, we are going to take far-reaching decision in that respect. “I am bringing that up with you for your intervention.

Not because we are afraid to go to the battle fi eld but because we have serious concern for the Nigerian citizens. When we shut down, who suff ers? It is the Nigerian citizen. It is not those managers of the Federal Ministry of health that have refused to do what is right at the right time”. Comrade Josiah also lamented the use of no-work no- pay applied by government on industrial dispute, adding that such law should not be applied by government since they can’t keep collective bargaining agreement. “Another threat to the healthsector and the workforce in general is the use of no-work no- pay by the Federal Ministry of Health.

After entering into agreements, and after reneging on these agreements, the ministry, when we now say okay, if you don’t want to listen to us it is our right to also withdraw our services, what the ministry will do is that they will wait for us to withdraw our services, they will now say they are invoking nowork-no-pay. “Recently, we carried out a survey and our people have also mandated us that whether nowork-no-pay, or not, that it is time we shut down the system. Th at brings us to the issue of concern for Nigerian citizens”.

On the planned Public Private Partnership (PPP) or concession of health facilities by government, he warned that the Nigerian poor populace will be denied health services, stressing that workers will not reject such plan. “Nigerians should not in any way accept such items. As exemplifi ed, the Garki Hospital, where PPP is operational, today that hospital is out of reach of the poor masses. Card alone was N4,000 and recently increased to N5,000; and we ask, the N18,000 salary earner, taking out N5,000 to take a card, what will he use for drugs and for feeding his family, when N18,000 is not even enough?

“We still believe that public health institutions are established for public good and to serve as social service point for the commoners. So we are standing here to say, no, to privatisation of public health institutions. It is international position  of PSI that health is not for sale. “I want to say clearly that these issues, if not nipped in the bud, especially, the issue of no-work-no-pay is not nipped in the bud, where the employer, after reaching agreement through collective bargaining, will renege and violate all the agreement and turn to intimidate workers throughout Nigeria simply means they are taking away from us the right to protest.

Th at simply means reintroduction of slave labour, that we are slaves and we cannot and should not complain. “So we want to call on the highest Labour body in the country, to say that is not the right way for them to operate; so help us free Nigeria from that problem so that Nigerians will have right to protest and say no to bad government policies and bad governance.” In his remark, Wabba said employment is a contract between an employer and employee, adding that any of the parties who didn’t keep such contractual agreement is liable. “We will have to develop means to approach those issues because in a decent society, there

is no way that an employer that has reneged on a law will come back and wants to benefi t from the provision of that same law. Th e law also has a provisions of no pay, no work.

Health Workers Threaten NationWide Strike Health Workers Threaten NationWide Strike Reviewed by okpala Precious on July 20, 2017 Rating: 5

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