Operations of public hospitals will be crippled around the country starting from today as health workers’ unions declare an indefinite strike to demand parity in wages with doctors and dentists.
The Joint Health Sector Unions comprise pharmacists, nurses, midwives, medical technologists, senior staff of university teaching hospitals and research institutes, as well as non-academic staff of educational institutions.
They declared the strike in Abuja yesterday after talks to resolve their grievances with the Federal Ministry of Health collapsed.
Among the union’s demands are reversal of decision not to skip CONHESS 10 in salary structure, sorting out “grey areas” in the National Health Bill considered “inimical” to professionals other than doctors and dentists, restoration of allowances for consultants and specialists and call duty and shift allowances.
They also want a review of retirement age for health workers, provision for eight union members to be on management board of teaching and tertiary hospitals, and promotion for qualified health workers up to CONHESS 15, the equivalent of Grade Level 17.
JOHESU said in a statement that the health sector continued to face major problems because “the powers that be have always discriminated and continue to discriminate between members of the Nigerian Medical Association on one hand and all other health professional associations on the other.”
Olukayode Faniran, coordinator of JOHESU, who also heads the Nigerian Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professions allied to Medicine, told Daily Trust: “This discrimination tendency in the Ministry of Health should be removed, and the current minister (Onyebuchi Chukwu) is actually doing a lot to add more to the disharmony in the health sector instead of solving it.”
There was no immediate comment from the health ministry yesterday.
The strike, which comes after a 15-day ultimatum from JOHESU expired yesterday, follows a three-day warning strike in December.
Lagos fires striking doctors
The announcement of the health workers