The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has accused the Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health, as well as leaders of the health and labour ministries, of conniving with medical doctors to frustrate the legitimate demands of the union.
Decrying the effort of the doctors in frustrating ongoing talks to end the union’s one-month-old strike, Biobebelemoye Josiah, National chairman of the union, alerted the public on the plans of doctors to cripple negotiation talks with the government.
Last week, Adewole had confirmed that talks were ongoing with the union to bring an end to the strike action soon. Pointing that negotiations were being led by the Minister of Labour, Adewole said that all issues relating to the demands of the striking health workers would be resolved.
But JOHESU's Josiah accused the labour and health ministries of siding with the doctors, saying: “When they made this memo it was in December and the ministry of health defended her budget in February but did not deem it fit to include the amount it worked for the payment or settlement of this very issue.
“This goes a long way to show that there was dishonesty, insincerity from the beginning on the part of the ministry (Federal Ministry of Health) because most probably the minister is a doctor; minister of state (Health) is a doctor and minister of labour who is supposed to be the chief negotiator, is also a medical doctor."
In a related development, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) threatened to withdraw its services across health institutions in the country if the Federal Government agrees to the demands of JOHESU and other health workers
“The NMA wishes to draw the attention of the Federal Government to our correspondence of April 21, 2014, on the above, in which we reminded Government of the collective bargaining agreement we had with the Federal Government of Nigeria in January 2014," read its statement.
“It is also pertinent to once again remind Government about the concluding part of our letter no. NMA/PRE/SG/03/0751 of 21st March 2014, which states, 'In view of the above, the NMA painfully wishes to inform the Federal Government of Nigeria that any award to the non-medically qualified health professionals that violates the January and July agreements of 2014 shall result in the resumption of the suspended withdrawal of service of 2014. Please take this as a notice, Sir'.
“The above reminder is predicated on the extension of the ongoing strike action embarked upon by the amorphous body called `JOHESU’, to States and Local Government Councils, the basis of which is to strengthen its callous and ill-motivated agitation for pay parity between her members and doctors with the resultant erosion of relativity and further hierarchical distortion in the health sector vis-à-vis her clandestine romance with some top government officials.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Nigerian Medical Association wishes to restate her positions on the various demands of JOHESU:
"We oppose vehemently, any adjustment in CONHESS SALARY SCALE with resultant pay parity between doctors and healthcare professionals allied to medicine, and hereby reaffirm that relativity is sacrosanct."
JOHESU embarked on the strike on April 17, following the refusal of the Federal Government to meet the demands being made by the union since 2017.