The Joint Health Sectors Unions, JOHESU, Akwa Ibom State Council had described the threat by the State government to sack any health professional who fails to resume work immediately as empty and lacking in substance.
The was included in a press release on Wednesday signed by the Commissioner for Information, Sir Charles Udoh. He ordered the health professionals in the State who embarked on the indefinite strike to resume duty or risk being sacked.
The Commissioner in the statement described the health workers’ demands as ill-conceived and politically motivated, stressing that it was ‘unreasonable’ for JOHESU to demand for payment of 50% of basic salaries as hazard allowance in the prevailing harsh economic climate.
JOHESU Had earlier placed demands, among others were to be given 50% of their basic salary as hazard allowance, reinstatement of about 723 sacked local government health workers, release of circular on implementation of the agreed 80 per cent of the National Consolidated Health Salary Structure and the recruitment of more health workers due to the shortfall occasioned by death, brain drain and retirement.
Irked by the Commissioner’s threat, JOHESU in a press statement jointly signed by the chairman of the state chapter of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives comrade Patrick Odu, the chairman of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Godwin Archibong and the chairman of the Nigeria Union of Allied Health Professionals, Aniebiet Abasi Obot, instructed members to ignore such threats and stay at home until the State government accede to their demands.
JOHESU regretted that Akwa Ibom was the only State in Nigeria that has refused to implement CONHESS to health workers, adding that they have communicated all the agencies both within and outside the State.
The unions, however, disclosed that all labour related agencies including the national headquarters of NLC, TUC and JNC have been duly informed of the issue in the State.
The statement reads in parts,”JOHESU views the press release of the commissioner for Information calling our members to resume duty as empty threat and without substance.
JOHESU also viewed the Information Commissioner press release as a deliberate act of provocation by alleging that JOHESU was sponsored by political detractors with underlying intent to vandalize health care facilities in the State.
“The unions therefore wish to ask Information Commissioners, was it the political detractors that asked government not to implement Consolidated Health Structure (CONHESS) for health workers since 2009 till date?
“Secondly, why did the State government set up a committee by the Chief of Staff to resolve the health workers’ legal demands?
“It is quite unfortunate that Information Commissioner who ought to be the image maker of the government can blatantly lie to the public that same government he claimed to represent is constrained to state that, it is unreasonable and unlawful for health care professionals to embark on any form of strike action during the period of coronavirus pandemic even when the welfare of the same health workers are not being taken care of.
“The Unions have communicated all the agencies both within and outside the State that Akwa Ibom State is the only state that has deliberately refused to implement CONHESS to health workers in Nigeria.”