Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) says it is “considering” suspending the ongoing strike by its members which has crippled services at public hospitals across Nigeria.
This decision according to reports followed the intervention of the National Industrial Court (NIC), after serious consideration of the plight of health-seeking persons all over the country and to give room for an amicable resolution of its dispute with the federal government.
A Non Governmental Organisation, the Incorporated Trustees of the Kingdom Human Rights Foundation (KHRFI) had obtained a court order against JOHESU; mandating the health workers to suspend their industrial action on the May, Monday, 21.
But as a way to exercise its constitutional rights to either comply or challenge the court order, JOHESU filed an appeal at the Appellate Court.
Confirming the development, National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela, however, said that the union was still ‘consulting’ and ‘considering’ when and how to suspend the strike.
“Yes, we are in the court in Abuja and the judge made some pronouncements but we are still consulting and considering the next move and when to suspend. You will get the final details soon,” he said.
It could be recalled that the National Industrial Court had about two weeks ago, ordered the workers to return to work within 24 hours.
The ruling followed an ex-parte motion filed by a non-governmental organisation.
But the union which said it remained ‘unmoved’ and was yet to be served with the order by Justice Babatunde Adejumo of the court, later confirmed receiving the order.
JOHESU, a body of all other health workers except doctors, called the strike 43 days ago.
The impasse has caused many deaths. Patients are passing through untold pains and their relatives are grumbling as federal, state and local government health institutions have been brought to their knees.
There were meetings between the government and the union with the Ministers of Health and Labor, Isaac Adewole and Chris Ngige leading the negotiations.
No common ground has been reached in these meetings, however, and members of JOHESU are accusing both officials of bias.
In fact, they called for removal of Mr Adewole as health minister, labelling him the major barrier to the resolution of the strike.
In Wednesday’s ruling, the court mandated its mediation centre to take over the negotiation and reconciliation processes within the next 24 hours in the interest of the public.
Responding, health ministry’s spokesperson, Boade Akinola, said the ministry was yet to receive the ruling.
“We have not seen the ruling, when we do so, we will be able to respond but rest assured that the Ministry of Health always obey court orders,” she said.
Meanwhile, the leadership of JOHESU in Lagos on Wednesday suspended the industrial action in the state.
Olatunji Tajudeen, the Lagos State JOHESU chairman who also confirmed the Industrial Court ruling, said government hospitals in the state had been directed to suspend the strike.
“The strike is today (Wednesday) suspended in Lagos State. This was approved by our national body and it will take effect immediately,” he said.
Mr Tajudeen said the suspension was because of the “achievements and commitments” made by the state governor to the plight of the health workers.