By Ismaila Chafe
The lingering nationwide strike embarked upon by health workers may suffered a set-back following resolve by doctors to render services and kick against the demands of the health workers.
The National Chairman of JOHESU, Mr Biobebelemoye Josiah, has therefore alerted of efforts by the doctors to frustrate ongoing talks to end the four-week-old strike.
Josiah raised the alarm when he fielded questions from newsmen in Abuja, and also accused the Ministry of Health of collaborating with the doctors in suppressing JOHESU’s legitimate demands from the government.
JOHESU had on April 17 embarked on industrial action to press home its demands bordering on improved healthcare facilities and welfare.
The strike by the union has so far crippled healthcare delivery in public health institutions across the country but the doctors render service.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, had confirmed that negotiations were on with JOHESU to end the strike.
“Negotiations are still on with JOHESU and the Minister of Labour is leading the negotiation, and we expect that we will conclude on all issues very soon.’’
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had in a statement threatened to withdraw their services across health institutions in the country if the federal government acceded 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.
The doctors drew the attention of government to the concluding part of their letter no. NMA/PRE/SG/03/0751 of 21st March 2014.
It 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.’’
“The above reminder is predicated on the extension of the ongoing strike action embarked upon by the amorphous body called `JOHESU’.
“The basis of the strike is callous and ill motivated 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,” the statement read in part.’’
The president of JOHESU, however, alleged that the two ministers of health were not serious in ending the strike in view of their position in support of the demands of the doctors at the detriment of JOHESU.
He said: “This very agreement was entered into and then a memo was made to Mr President as they claimed even though they gave us a copy later.
“When they made this memo it was in December and the ministry of health defended her budget in February, but did not deem it to include that 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.’’ (NAN)