…Says NASS interested in welfare of Nigerians
The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel was reached by Nigerians and stakeholders in the Health Sector on Thursday, as the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) called off its six weeks strike action following what the it described as well thought intervention of Senate President, Bukola Saraki after a series of meetings with the leadership of the union.
It would be recalled that two weeks ago, Saraki embarked on mediation to end the labour action that paralyzed Nigeria’s healthcare facilities for the nearly 50 days.
Series of meetings between the Ministers of Health, Dr Isaac Adewole, Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige and JOHESU ended in deadlock while Nigerians suffered during the strike.
The union had earlier come up with three options, the last of which was to reduce the N22billion correctly calculated by the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission to N16 billion, in an attempt to resolve the lingering issue.
Recall that the federal government, rather than picking one of these options, decided to offer the health workers 15 per cent of the N22billion which is about N3billion, nearly a quarter of their demand.
A desperate Federal Ministry of Health had threatened that the JOHESU leaders may be jailed after a court hearing where it was strangely alleged that JOHESU is being sponsored to keep on with the strike action by the opposition, especially the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with the aim of destabilising the present government.
Besides, Governing boards of Federal Tertiary Health Institutions were instructed to order their striking workers to resume or face proscription but to no avail.
The Union’s demand had included upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary Scale, arrears of skipping of CONHESS 10, employment of additional health professionals, implementation of court judgments and upward review of retirement age of health workers from 60 to 65 years.
Senator Bukola Saraki stepped in and requested a meeting with the JOHESU leadership to find a lasting end to the crisis.
After the first meeting had ended in deadlock, Saraki met again with the leadership of JOHESU in hopes to persuade them to call off the strike action while still on the negotiation table so as to ease the sufferings of Nigerians who could not afford private hospital services.
After the second meeting with President of the Senate, JOHESU called of its nationwide strike action on Thursday, which its Chairman, Josiah Biobelemoye, disclosed in a communique issued at the end of the union’s National Executive Council meeting on in Abuja.
He particularly stated that the suspension of the strike followed the intervention of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and sympathy for the masses.
He praised Senator Bukola Saraki’s high level of statesmanship and sincerity of purpose adding that the Senate President had put in place some machineries with a view to permanently resolve the issues in contention.
The leadership of JOHESU expressed their gratitude to Bukola Saraki whose intervention had brought the 6 weeks strike to an end of pain and suffering for the Nigerian masses.
While negotiations are set to resume on the June 4, it is, however, fair to mention that the National Assembly has once again provided thought leadership in steering the affairs of the nation as it concerns the Nigerian people.
By intervening in the crisis, the National Assembly has proven that it is indeed interested in the general welfare of the Nigerian people and will continue to do so.