By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan
The University College Hospital (UCH) branch of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), on Thursday issued a fresh 14 day ultimatum to the Federal Government to pay up all the outstanding debts of its members or face an indefinite strike.
JOHESU made up of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP), Non Academic Staff Union of Universities and Tertiary Institutions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) handed down the ultimatum which takes effect from yesterday, Thursday 14th September 2017 at a press conference /congress held at the School of Nursing, UCH, Ibadan,
Addressing the press conference on behalf of JOHASU, Chairman of the NUAHP, Comrade Victor Sotiloye declared that it was the failure of the government to meet the demands of the workers that forced the unions under JOHASU to mobilize all their members to withdraw their services.
Comrade Sotiloye asked members of the public to bear with the unions on the hardship the decision might expose them to,saying the decision to down tool came as a last resort, saying, We are therefore in giving the Federal government of Nigeria fourteen days with effect from today Thursday 14th September 2017 to meet the above-listed demands, failing which all the Unions shall not hesitate to mobilise all our members to withdraw their services.
Emphasizing that “the fresh ultimatum is, however, another leg to an earlier one issued to the FG by the National body of the union”, Comrade Sotiloye said the UCH branch would join the National directive as soon as it is declared or embark on her own threat, should the National body changes her mind on the initial threat.
” Our members have been cheated, shortchanged and demoralized over the years. Having a good understanding of the nature of our job, and that of the system where we render service, we have always exercised restraints when it comes to the declaration of industrial action.” he said.
The spokesperson gave the three point demand placed before the government by JOHESU as ” payment of promotion arrears for years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016; payment of salary arrears due to shortfall experienced in 2014, 2015 and 2016; and remitting of the unremitted union dues and deductions made from Cooperative Societies.”
“We make the following demands: that the promotion arrears for years 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 be paid without further delay. That all salary arrears due to shortfall experienced in years 2014, 2015, and 2016 be settled without further delay. That all unremitted union dues and deductions made for cooperative societies be remitted without further delay.”
JOHESU described the situation in the Nigeria health sector as that of “Animal Farm”, where “all animals are equal, but some more equal services, saying, “it is a general knowledge that the health sector has become another ‘Animal Farm’ where all animals are equal, but some are ‘more equal’ than others. This is evident in the way the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health is treating our members who constitute 95 percent of the labour force in the sector.”
Stressing that “it is evident in the way the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health is treating her members who constitute about 95 percent of the labour force in the sector.” Comrade Sotiloye accused the government of cheating, shortchanging and demoralizing her members over the years, but that the members have always exercised restraints when it comes to declaration of industrial action,
He maintained that JOHESU have however discovered that over the years, the silence and maturity has been misinterpreted to be foolishness as all means of peaceful dialogues have been exhausted to no avail and that the workers’ grievances are numerous, he stressed that they have chosen to make their demands over three matters as they can no longer keep quiet on them.
“Meanwhile, having been patient over the years, we have come to discover that our silence and maturity has been misinterpreted to be foolishness. All available means of peaceful dialogue have been exhausted to no avail. We have been pushed to the walls and we are left with no other option than to cry out.
“This silence is no more golden. We have been taken to be foolish. Our members are suffering and all we could get from the government are empty promises. We have been treated like second class citizens in our own fatherland. We thus demand immediate disbursement of funds as promised into the accounts of all affected members.
“We wish to use this opportunity to plead with the public to please bear with us, as we are unaware of the hardship this decision may expose them to, but we want to let them know that this came as our last resort. It shall be appreciated if the public can prevail on the Federal Government to accede to our demands and give us what rightly belongs to us”.