By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja. Sept. 7, 2020 The leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) says it will commence nationwide warning strike over Federal Government’s failure to meet the union’s outstanding demands with effect from September 13.
Mr Biobelemoye Josiah, the JOHESU Chairman, said this during a news conference in Abuja on Monday.
Josiah listed the alleged shortchanging of the union in the payment of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance (SIHA) to frontline health workers, as part of the union’s demands.
“It becomes imperative to inform you that if the federal government does not meet these demands by midnight of September 13, JOHESU will have no choice than to commence a nationwide seven days warning strike.
“The strike will include our members in all the Federal Health Institutions (FHIs), states and Local Government health institutions,” Josiah said.
According to him, JOHESU is forced to draw attention to the deliberate short-changing of our members in the payment of COVID-19 inducement allowances.
“The Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) ought to redress and supervise the adherence to the payment of 40 per cent or 50 per cent COVID-19 SIHA as appropriate to all health workers in Isolation Centres, FHIs and other related health facilities.
“This is without discrimination bordering on clinical or non-clinical status based on our Memorandum of Understanding of April 21 and as admitted by the FMoH at a meeting of July 1 that the payment of 10 per cent was done in error.
“Consequently, FMoH agreed to correct the anomaly and pay the outstanding balance of 40 per cent of Consolidated Basic Salary to all the beneficiaries hitherto earning N5,000 as hazard allowance.
“The federal government did not ensure total and full implementation of the July 1 agreement with JOHESU when it disbursed the third tranche of the allowance for June.
“This has created grumbling across our membership and the challenge of assuaging the affected and restive members.
“The situation has made it impossible to guarantee industrial harmony within the generality of JOHESU members,” Josiah said.
He expressed concern that government was not forthcoming in the payment of all withheld salaries of members at Jos University Teaching Hospital, Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, including the April and May 2018 salaries and adjustment of CONHESS salary structure.
The JOHESU chairman also decried the recent increase in the pump price of fuel and hike in electricity tariff in the country.
“We at JOHESU take cognisance of the deregulation of fuel prices by the Petroleum Pricing Regulatory Agency.
“We, in strong terms, reject the hike in electricity tariff, especially at this critical period occasioned by COVID-19 because it clearly increases the sufferings of poor Nigerians.
“As a short term solution, we demand urgent fixing of our refineries to begin local refining and mitigate the volatility of the petroleum products prices with attendant anti-masses effect,” he said.
The union also called on the Federal Inland Revenue Service to reverse the new stamp duties to be paid by tenants in properties, describing its introduction as unacceptable.
By Joan Nwagwu