Health Workers suspend planned strike

Helen Shok Jok, Abuja

The Joint Health Sector Workers Union of Nigeria JOHESU has suspended the industrial action which would have commenced from midnight 10th of March.

The decision to suspend the action was taken after an emergency meeting of JOHESU in Abuja.

The nationwide strike would have paralyzed work in public health facilities in the country had it not been averted.

Chairman of JOHESU, Biobelemoye Josiah, in an exclusive interview with Voice of Nigeria, said the decision to suspend the action was taken in honour of the late Minister of State for Labour and Employment, James Ocholi who died in a car crash on Sunday along with his wife and son.

Biobelemoye said “the JOHESU, we had an emergency meeting after slightly overcoming the shock of the incidence on Sunday of the death of the humble, committed and honest Minister of State, Labour and Employment; we call him comrade James Ocholi. We took a number of decisions; first you know the ultimatum would have expired midnight Thursday. We have taken a decision to put it on hold that is temporarily suspending the ultimatum in honour of the late Minister.”

The meeting also declared seven days of mourning beginning Friday 11th to Thursday 17th March with Jumat prayer in the mosques and a church service on Sunday. Members of JOHESU across the country are also expected to wear a black hand band as a mark of honour in memory of the late Minister.

Asked if the demise of the Minister will affect the union’s negotiations with the government, the JOHESU Chairman said government must take up the responsibility of ensuring that the works the Minister did not go in vain.

In his own words “I think it’s a responsibility on two folds, the Minister had made some tremendous and significant steps forward, the best thing is for the Federal Government through the Ministry of Labour and Employment not let his golden efforts die or be buried with his death. We expect the Federal Government and we pray that God will give Mr President the wisdom to appoint someone who will be just, humble, committed and honest just like Ocholi”, he said.

He believes that if the late Minister were to be alive, what he called the unfair administration, deliberate denial of peoples’ right would be a thing of the past within six months.

He said Nigeria and organised labour will miss the vast knowledge and experience.

It could be recalled that JOHESU has given the government a 21 day ultimatum which would have expired midnight of Thursday 10th of March, to meet its demands or face industrial action.