Nigerian health workers suspend 12-day-old strike after meeting President Tinubu

The Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) has suspended its 12-day-old strike after meeting President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in Abuja.

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.”

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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