The Health Workers’ Union in Nigeria under the umbrella of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) has suspended its 12-day-old strike after meeting with President Bola Tinubu GCFR on Monday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
The JOHESU National Vice President, Obinna Ogbonna, said the strike had been suspended due to the progress made during a meeting with Nigeria’s President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Monday.
He said the health workers “Called a meeting shortly after meeting with the president and decided to call off the strike and gave a 21-day timeline to the government.”
“We met with Mr President at the villa earlier today, and he pleaded with the striking health workers to give him the benefit of the doubt that he will resolve the matters amicably to our own benefit and positive results,” Ogbonna said.
“The congress considered his plea and also said we should give a 21-day timeline to assess progress and commitment of state actors in resolving the issues,” he added.
Meeting with President Tinubu
Earlier on Monday, President Tinubu urged leaders of JOHESU, an affiliate of the Nigeria Labour Congress to call off the strike and allow its members to return to work
He restated that his administration would revive and restore public confidence in the health sector.
The President harped on the importance of the health sector and professionals in the sector as one of commitment to humanity, promising to resolve all identified problems plaguing the system for optimum performance.
“The health sector is one sector with a commitment to humanity. We will resolve all the problems. Trust must be enshrined in all discussions. I promise you we will accelerate this. We will resolve all the issues. Please go back to work,” President Tinubu appealed to the union leaders.
While expressing the readiness of the union to get its members back to work, Acting Chairman, Dr Obinna Ogbonna, pleaded with President Tinubu to pay attention to the healthcare delivery system in Nigeria through adequate investment in healthcare infrastructure and better welfare for workers in the sector to stop the brain drain.
“Mr President, now that we have assurance from the top, we are encouraged to go back and talk to our members with a view to going back to work,” he said.
Mr Olumide Akintayo, a member of the Executive Council of the Union, who accompanied the Acting Chairman to the meeting, urged the government to always respond to Labour issues and nip them in the bud before they become a full-blown industrial crisis.
Health Workers Strike
The health workers’ union commenced an indefinite strike on Thursday, 25 May, following the alleged failure of the Nigerian government to meet its demand.
The health workers are demanding the immediate approval and implementation of the technical committee report on CONHESS adjustment by the government.
They also demand immediate payment of the omission and shortfall in the COVID-19 hazard/inducement allowances of affected health workers in federal health institutions.
Other demands are “The immediate and unconditional implementation of the pharmacist consultant cadre, unconditional payment of all withheld salaries of Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Jos University Teaching Hospital, and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, and outstanding April and May 2018 salaries of members at FMC, Azare.”
The union also called for the speedy implementation of the increase in the retirement age from 60 to 65 years and 70 years for consultants in the health professions.
JOHESU is the association of health workers apart from medical doctors and dentists.
The union consists of health workers’ unions and associations, including the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions, and Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes, and Associated Institutions, and Assembly of Health Care Professional Association (AHPA).
Subsidy: Government, NLC in Meeting
Voice of Nigeria has earlier reported that the Nigerian government resumed talks with the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) at 17:00 GMT on Monday, June 5, 2023
The meeting taking place at the conference room of the office of the Chief of Staff to the President is said to have been at the instance of the government and is expected to be discussing fallouts from the removal of fuel subsidy.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila is leading the government’s team at the meeting.
As of Monday evening, discussions were still ongoing between the Nigerian Government and the (NLC)
Both parties have been engaged in horse trading for hours but they later went on a break to allow for consultations.
TUC President, Festus Osifo in white and NLC President, Joe Ajaero during the breakThe NLC President, Joe Ajaero who left the meeting with some of his EXCO members, were seen consulting outside the hall.
He told State House Correspondents that both sides were wooing each other.
The NLC President, however said they were not aware of any court injunction halting the strike.
He said there was no need for government to use underhand tactics, but rather should engage Labour and address the concerns of workers.
After the break, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), leadership and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Godwin Emefiele joined the meeting.
Meanwhile, former Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo has joined the government delegation.
Suspension Of Planned Strike
READ ALSO: Organised Labour suspends planned strike
At the end of the meeting on Monday night, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) suspended their strike scheduled for Wednesday, June 7, 2023.
The Nigerian Government and organised labour agreed to establish a joint committee to review the proposal for any wage increase or award and establish a framework and timeline for implementation.
Additional Research/Premium Times/PIAK