Federal Government on Monday begged the striking health workers in various federal health institutions across the country to suspend the ongoing industrial action, as it planned to resume conciliatory meeting on Tuesday, 26th September, 2017.
Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment, gave the charge in Abuja while reacting to the effects of the nationwide strike action declared by the healthcare providers in the federal health institutions under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), on the citizenry.
Ngige who expressed displeasure over the unrest in the nation’s health sector, however appealed to them to “call off action and return to their different beats in the hospitals and institutions to avoid unnecessary hardship and death of patients.”
The Minister who expressed Federal Government’s resolve to end the one week old strike, alleged that the striking para-medical and other health workers, failed to comply with the provisions of the extant law on trade dispute.
“I wish to place on record that JOHESU had wrongly issued a seven-day strike ultimatum on 14th September, 2017 instead of the mandatory fifteen-day notice the law requires of those on essential duties.
Ngige alleged that the Union “took another wrong step by routing its notice of action to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) instead of the Labour and Employment Minister whom JOHESU is fully aware is empowered by the Section 5(6) of the Trade Dispute Act 2004 to apprehend such dispute within the time frame of notice and effect conciliation thereafter.
“Further, it is regrettable that the invitation extended to JOHESU by the Minister of Labour and Employment under the provision of this law for a meeting on Thursday, 21st September, 2017 was not honoured because JOHESU wanted to call out the member unions on strike, thereby disrupting services in these health institutions.
“For the avoidance of doubt however, the Ministry of Labour and Employment, working in concert with the Ministry of Health, has fixed another conciliatory meeting for tomorrow Tuesday, 26th September, 2017 by 2pm.
“Therefore, the Hon. Minister requests members of JOHESU to resume work as serious efforts are being made to meet their grievances most of which like the payment of shortfalls of salaries, promotion arrears, repatriation allowances among others have already been addressed by Government through various negotiations with other unions representing the interest of workers, that is, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in the last three weeks,” the statement signed by Samuel Olowookere, Deputy Director (Press) read.
Recall that Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) had on Wednesday, 20th September, 2017 declared “Operation Alligator Bite” as part of efforts geared toward pressing home for the demands.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja