Government hospitals in Federal Capital Territory, FCT, were forced to discharge their patients as the states and local governments workers joined the nationwide strike by the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, on Wednesday (today).
The JOHESU has directed all its members at the state and local government to commence and join the strike action from midnight of Wednesday 9 May 2018 (last night).
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the National Chairman of JOHESU, Biobelemoye Josiah had directed their states and local government workers to join the strike because the government has not shown commitment.
“Since the government has not shown enough commitment to tow the path of honour and meet our demands, especially, the core demand for the upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Structure as agreed in the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement signed on the 30th àaa, 2017 with JOHESU, we are left with no other option than to direct States and Local Governments to commence and join the strike action nationwide from midnight of today, Wednesday, 9th May, 2018.” Mr Josiah said.
Following this directive, hospitals in the FCT as early as Wednesday morning started discharging their patients on admission, while their relatives were advised to come and carry them out of the hospital.
Moses Akwashiki, a journalist with a popular Abuja based newspaper, said his mother has been on admission at the Gwarinpa General Hospitals for weeks, where she was taking treatment.
He told Nigerian Tribune that he received a call from one of those attending to his mother to come over to the hospital and arranged certain medication and diet for her.
“But when I got to the hospital, I was discovered that mama has been discharged. I was directed to a consultant who told me they have discharged mama.
“Though he tried to tell me the reasons for the confidence which is not unconnected with the fact that JOHESU members are going on strike. I told him I am a journalist and should know.”
As at 5 p.m yesterday, Moses was still trying frantically to either move his mummy to a private hospital or take her home to continue with medication and dieting advice, given to them in the hospital.
The JOHESU national chairman accused both Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige who are medical doctors of preferential treatment in favour of the doctors, who were frustrating their efforts.
Mr Josiah said: “Our own demand for the adjustment of CONHESS that affects over 95% of the health workforce nationwide has been frustrated, and part of the reason for this is that the minister of health, as well as the minister of state for health, are all medical doctors, while the minister of labour and employment, who should be a neutral umpire in trade disputes is equally a medical doctor. They, therefore feel unconcerned on matters of the welfare of other healthcare providers.”
Giving reasons for the new directive, asking states and local governments health workers to join the strike, he pointed out that after three rounds of meetings held on Thursday 26 April, Wednesday 2 May, and on Monday 7 May; at the instance of minister of labour to find a way forward, the Ministry of Health was making things difficult.
The JOHESU chairman said: “The Ministry of Health is bent on thwarting all efforts at reaching an amicable settlement on the issues of our demands, especially the upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Structure, despite the superior argument of National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission.”
He added: “We wish to bring to your attention, that the preferential treatment given to Medical Doctors has remained the major albatross to peaceful co-existence of health practitioners in the health industry in Nigeria.
“Government has not shown any seriousness to meet our demands and the existence of fifth columnists in and out of government who are bent on escalation o prolong the strike for their selfish interest of privatization of government hospitals, and buy these government legacies for themselves has not helped the matter.”