Members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Keffi, Nasarawa State has joined the nationwide indefinite strike called by their union.
Similarly, JOHESU members at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTHC), Ile-Ife, Osun, have also joined the industrial action.
The JOHESU National Vice Chairman, Mr Obinna Ogbonna, and Chairman of FMC Keffi branch, Mr Achimugu Isaiah, confirmed this on Wednesday in Osogbo and Keffi, respectively, to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
The union leaders said that all the health workers complied with the strike, except medical doctors who are providing skeletal services.
Some of the demands of the union include upward adjustment of salary scale, employment of additional health professionals, review of retirement age from 60 years to 65 years, implementation of court judgment, among others.
Isaiah said that they decided to join their colleagues in the strike following a directive from the national body.
“The primary aim of every health worker is to see that the welfare of patients is improved, but health workers have no option rather than to embark on the strike in order to improve on the health status of Nigerians,’’ he said.
He said that in September 2017, the Federal Government and JOHESU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the promised that they will within five weeks implement the demands of the union.
“This is the sixth month and nothing has been done by the federal government. We have been given the mandate by our national body to embark on a full strike.
“It is on this note and based on the strength and power given to me by sister unions, I declare the indefinite strike as directed by our national body,” he said.
According to him, “No implementation, no coming back to work. I want to direct all unit heads to lock your offices and hand over keys to your head of departments and any of our member found wanting will be sanctioned’’.
Isaiah added that the strike was in the best interest of the public, especially the poor.
The chairman called on the federal government to meet up with the demands of the union in order to improve on the health status of Nigerians.
Reacting, Dr Luka Samuel, the Acting Medical Director of FMC Keffi, appealed to JOHESU to have a rethink and return to work in the interest of the health sector.
Samuel reminded them that the strike would only bring untold hardship to many Nigerians, especially the less privileged who do not have the means to access private healthcare services.
In Osogbo, Ogbonna told members that the union decided to join the strike due to the alleged failure of the Federal Government to honour agreements with the body.
The national official recalled that the federal government had on Sept. 30, 2017, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the union on its demands which, according to him, was to be implemented within five weeks.
“It will be recall that JOHESU suspended its last nationwide strike action on Sept. 30, 2017, after the signing of an MoU with the union.
“For the avoidance of doubt, our demands are upward adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), employment of additional health workers, implementation of court judgment, upward review of retirement age from 60 to 65, among others.
“However, it is disheartening to note that after six months after the suspension of our last strike and still counting, the federal government has not done anything tangible over the issues”.
Ogbonna, who is also the President of Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), explained that the union had to embark on the indefinite strike after the 30 days working ultimatum given to the federal government expired.
“JOHESU unions hereby direct all her members in all federal health institutions to proceed on an indefinite strike.
“States and Local Government health institutions are by this placed on red alert and are to continue intense sensitisation and mobilisation of members for possible entry into the fray if the government foot drags in attending to our demands,” he said.
Ogbonna, however, called on Nigerians to prevail on government to meet its demands as agreed.
JOHESU consists of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN), Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospitals, among others.