#JOHESUStrike2018 @daily_trust Editorial: JOHESU Stop This Strike
The ongoing strike by health workers in federal health institutions is another unwarranted and unfortunate action that compounds the woes of ordinary Nigerians and costs precious lives. The strike was embarked upon following a directive by the Joint Health Sector Unions [JOHESU] for its members to go on indefinite strike. The strike which started from midnight Tuesday, April 17, 2018 followed the Federal Government’s failure implement to an earlier agreement signed with the unions.
The five health sector unions that make up JOHESU are Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI), Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) and Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria. On September 30, 2017 JOHESU suspended a nationwide strike after signing a memorandum of terms of settlement with the Federal Government, which was to be implemented within five weeks.
Chairman of JOHESU Biobelemoye Josiah said the issues were upward adjustment of CONHESS salary scale, arrears of skipping CONHESS 10, employment of additional health professionals, implementation of court judgment and upward review of retirement age from 60-65. He said it was disheartening that six months after suspending the strike, the Federal Government failed to implement the agreement.
On the other hand, president of Nigeria Medical Association Professor Mike Ogirima said JOHESU is illegal because it is not a registered trade union. Ogirima said the strike is aimed at medical doctors in public hospitals because, according to him, other health workers envy medical doctors. He also warned the presidency not to agree to the health workers’ demands, saying all over the world there was relativity added to medical doctors, different from other health workers.
The Federal Government appealed to the union to shelve the strike or it would invoke relevant labour laws of ‘no work no pay’ in dealing with striking workers, which did not deter the union from embarking on the strike. The strike has affected health care delivery across the country; patients were evacuated by their relatives and moved to private hospitals or even taken home by those who could not afford private hospitals.
We condemn this strike in its entirety because any time health workers and or doctors go on strike it cripples the health sector and leads to death of patients. It is against their work of compassion to look the other way while patients are neglected and suffer. Even if they are aggrieved because government refuses to honour an agreement, they should not be going on strike as it only affects the ordinary man.
It is high time health workers change tactics because going on strike portrays them in public eyes as cruel and insensitive.
We however call on the Federal Government to think thoroughly before entering agreements with unions so as not to be pushed or blackmailed by strike to sign what it knows it could not implement. Another source of worry is the rivalry in the health sector between the doctors and the health workers. Health workers feel that doctors are getting the upper hand, such as being made Medical Directors and Ministers of Health and even becoming Consultants.
They also want these positions. As far as we are concerned there is no basis for comparison as they all have their training in their respective fields. All over the world doctors are the leaders of health care teams even though complete health care is not possible without nurses, midwives, pharmacists and other healthcare technicians.
In all other professional sectors such as engineering, manufacturing and education there are similar arrangements of different but collaborative work and some people take the lead by virtue of their training.
There is no reason why such harmonious coexistence should not prevail in the health sector. We urge the Federal Government and JOHESU to as a matter of urgency settle the matter once and for all and for the health workers to go back to work immediately.