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JOHESU calls on Health Workers to Continue Strike

Ogonnaya Nwogwugwu

The Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU),   and the Assembly of Health Care Professionals in a statement made available to newsmen and a copy obtained by Daily Champion has made its position known on the on-going nationwide strike embark by health workers.
According to the statement dated 16th December with reference number HQ/JOHESU/01/2014, the organization said all “skeletal and concessional services” in all healthcare facilitieswill be stop in order to intensify the month-old strike called by JOHESU last month after the federal government failed to attend a scheduled meeting between both sides on Monday.
JOHESU wants government to implement the agreements reached since 2009 and several rulings of the National Industrial Court in their favour.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of JOHESU AyubaWabba said two previous meetings since the strike started on November 12 have been “without meaningful progress.”
The statement reads in part, “We extend comradely salutations to you at this critical point in the struggle of health care workers across Nigeria for better workconditions and the enthronement of collective agreements reached with the federal government over the past five years.
You are thus being updated on the position of JOHESU and enjoined to uphold the directive for total work stoppage as stated in this circular thus:
We have had two meetings without meaningful progress; but most sadly is the lack of commitment and seriousness on the part of the federal ministry of health, during both and also in between meetingsend to the plight of Nigerians and health workers by addressing the issues and restoring public health services, it resorted to acts of intimidation culminating in the directive contained in circular ref. DHS/PLC/01/P/130 dated 9th December 2014
Furthermore the ignominious use of the police to brutalize our members against all known universal industrial relation norms is condemnable. If the situation continues it may lead to breakdown of law and order in our health institutions similar to that witnessed in ABUTH and other hospitals in the 1990s
Health workers right to freedom of association and collective bargaining cannot be wished away. The federal government of Nigeria is a signatory to the ILO conventions 87 and 98 which guarantee freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining for trade unions and which have both been domesticated in our labour laws.
Further, the trade unions act (2005) is quite explicit and unambiguous in enshrining the respect for disputes of right, that is, where and when trade unions embark on industrial action in situations where collective agreements are violated by the employers.
In the light of the foregoing which is objectively verifiable, JOHESU has fulfilled all righteousness and our strike action is both legal and legitimate. The invocation of “no work, no pay” by the federal government is totally flawed and holds no water, whatsoever.
If any party is to be sanctioned here, in line with the laws of the land, it should be the federal government of Nigeria for treating collective agreements the FGN freely entered into with JOHESU and which the NICN upheld, with utter disdain and contempt. We thus call for respect for our due right to strike based on what is a dispute of right. All members and branches of the member unions of JOHESU must remain unperturbed by all forms of threats, blackmail and intimidation, united in struggle, WeWill Win!
We hereby give this directive for total compliance with the on-going industrial action arising from the obvious tactics of intimidation and brutalization of our members in demanding for their legitimate rights and the obvious exhibition of bias against JOHESU by the federal ministry of health including the refusal of key officers of the ministry to attend the meeting of December 15 2014 we are compelled to direct our members to suspend all forms of skeletal and concessional services in all healthcare facilities and ensure total compliance with the strike action.
As a matter of necessity branch meetings should hold regularly for the enforcement of members’ rights and liberties and to resist any form of brutalization, intimidation and oppression, through all legitimate means.
Members should gird their loins for a long drawn battle if need be, as we will not turn back until victory is achieved.
Any branch of which fails to comply with this directives will be considered as attempting to sabotage our collective struggle and will have requisite disciplinary actions meted out to it.
As we enjoin all well-meaningNigerians to call on the federal government to live up to its constitutional obligation of respect for the rule of law by implementing the collective agreements reached since 2009 till date, we equally expect healthcare workers to remain steadfast in this historical industrial action.
This is a struggle foisted on us and we must be unwavering in our resolve and ceaseless efforts at mobilization, ensuring total compliance, for us to achieve victory.

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