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NIGERIA | Health Workers Begin Indefinite Strike

Oseheye Okwuofu
health-workers

Health workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) Tuesday embarked on an indefinite national strike over alleged unwillingness by the Federal Government to attend to their demands.

The union had last week threatened industrial action, if the Federal Government fails to honour its demands. Mostly to be affected are medical laboratory, X-ray, physiotherapy, pharmacy, nursing services and others. A statement by NUAHP, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan branch yesterday reads: “This is to inform you that the NUAHP commenced an indefinite strike action to protest government’s unwillingness to attend to our demands after promising to do so immediately after the election.”

The beginning of the strike coincided with that of Association of Resident Doctors, UCH branch, over unpaid skipping allowances by the management. The two unions’ action has further worsened the condition of medical services, leaving hundreds of helpless patients to suffer.

NUAHP gave the Federal Government till Monday, this week, to address their demands, failure which it threatened to embark on indefinite strike. NUAHP immediate past President Felix Faniran and his successor, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna, who jointly addressed a news conference at UCH last Tuesday, claimed that salary and allowances of their colleagues in the medical and dental fields have improved.

But, they lamented that “the Federal Government turned deaf ears to NUAHP members’ demands”. The union’s demands include the implementation of the adjusted salary of its members as done for the medical association, payment of arrears on skipping of CONHESS 10 since year 2010 in compliance with a court judgment, promotion of its members from CONHESS 14 to 15 for those who have spent over 15 years on the grade and designate the most senior as director or head of department.

Other demands include appointment of its members as chief medical directors of various tertiary hospitals, rather than medical practitioners alone. The union said the industrial action it embarked upon early this year was suspended following plea by President Goodluck Jonathan, promising to resolve all pending issues after the general election.

The strike, the union noted, was suspended on February 2, after which a joint press conference was addressed by the Health Minister, Dr. Khaliru Alhasan, and JOHESU Chairman Ayuba Wabba. Efforts to see the president after the election, the union revealed, have been abortive.

It stressed that its decision to go on strike to press home its demands was taken at its 6th triennial delegates’ conference, which took place last week in Uyo, where “a 7-day ultimatum was given to the Federal Government starting from May 11 to May 17, 2015”.

Faniran lamented that its members were not allowed to reach the peak of their career despite many years spent in the university.
“It will be unethical for us to welcome the incoming administration with a strike. But we would like to put it on record that the outgoing administration has failed to fulfill any of the agreement reached with us three years ago.

This is the best time for us to go on strike because the last time we embarked on industrial action during the electioneering campaign, we were accused of being bought over by the opposition and we had to call it off to show respect for the office of Mr. President.

“If we fail to continue from where we stopped, they will say we are sympathetic to the cause of the incoming administration,” he said. He warned heads of health institutions against privatising government health Institutions for their selfish gains, saying that would “make hospital services to be out of reach of commoners and staff retrenchment to satisfy their whims and caprices.”

Published: 5/21/2015. By: Oseheye Okwuofu
Copyright © The Nation

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