COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING OF JOINT HEALTH SECTOR UNIONS (JOHESU) AND ASSEMBLY OF HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS (AHPA) AT MEDICAL AND HEALTH WORKERS’ UNION OF NIGERIA NATIONAL SECRETARIAT (AYUBA WABBA HOUSE) ON 31ST MAY, 2018
Nigerians and consumers of healthcare services will recall that the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) embarked on a nationwide strike action on midnight of 17th April, 2018 owing to the failure of Federal Government through the Ministry of Health to honour agreements willfully signed with the unions on 30th September, 2017, after due notice of sixty six (66) cumulative days.
Following series of meetings (8) with the Federal Government team under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FMoL&E) and Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) other agencies of Government such as Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), Federal Ministry of Finance (FMoF) National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Department of State Security Services (DSS), and others.
We note with dismay the insincerity and unseriousness exhibited at the negotiation table by the Government negotiating team which led to the breakdown of further negotiations and unnecessarily prolonged the strike action.
It is on record that it was during the period of late Barr. James Ocholi (SAN) who was the chairman of the committee set up by Federal Ministry of Labour that JOHESU demands was sincerely and passionately looked into with a view to permanently resolving it amicably but the expectation was short lived due to the cold hands of death. We salute his spirit and dedication to service of his father land.
We wish to put on record the intervention of His Excellency Alh. Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the Executive Governor of Kano State for his spirited efforts in intervening for the peaceful resolution of the crisis that has bedevilled the Nigeria health sector.
We wish to also commend the governments of Kano, Lagos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Delta and Edo states for their proactiveness in addressing the labour concerns of our members in their domain and we implore other states to emulate the aforementioned states.
After the failure of the Federal Government negotiation team to resolve this impasse an NGO seek and got an ex-parte Court order directing JOHESU to suspend the strike within 24 hours and report back to work.
Our legal team challenged the ex-parte motion at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) and subsequently filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal with a view to quashing the order and taking it away from National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) to the Court of Appeal for adjudication.
However, at the first hearing where our legal team challenged the jurisdiction of the NICN to entertain the matter filed by the NGO, the presiding judge ruled as follows:
1. Court takes over the Negotiations between JOHESU and Government in its Alternative Dispute resolution (ADR) centre.
2. JOHESU and Government side are to nominate their representatives in the ADR process within 24 hours of the NICN judgment. The Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Labour shall nominate officers that have authority to negotiate on its behalf i.e the Honourable Minister of Health and Honourable Minister of Labour shall not be part of the committee.
3. The agreement reached at the ADR centre will be registered in the court as judgment binding on both parties.
4. JOHESU is to initiate the process of allowing normalcy to return to hospitals within 3 days.
5. Both parties were ordered to maintain status-quo ante bellum while negotiation lasts
Intervention by the Senate President, Senator Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki
Due to the intervention of His Excellency, the Senate President, Senator (Dr.) Abubakar Bukola Saraki who through his love for the suffering masses displayed high level of statesmanship and sincerity of purpose by putting some machineries in place with a view to permanently resolving the issues in contention. JOHESU having considered his intervention after holding just two meetings with leadership, where serious progress were made.
The various gains from the meetings with His Excellency, the Senate President were presented to the NEC of JOHESU, after an exhaustive deliberations and discussions, the NEC in session approved that the six (6) weeks old strike be suspended this day Thursday, 31st May, 2018 because of the sympathy the Unions have for the suffering Nigerian masses and also to pave way for further negotiations to continue on Monday 4th June, 2018.
We would like to place on record that JOHESU strike actions is neither ill nor politically motivated but in a bid to save the health sector from imminent collapse. We appreciate the solidarity, support and guidance of the President of the Nigerian Labour Congress, His Deputy and TUC in seeing to the resolution of this crisis as well as National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) and other well meaning for rising up to the occasion while the strike lasted.
We appreciate our teaming members abundantly for their steadfastness, resoluteness and resilience during this period of trial.
JOHESU is not unmindful of the various threats letters and circulars emanating from the Federal Ministry of Health and Managements of hospitals across the country. We however, urge our members to remain peaceful and law abiding in the face of intimidation and report any form of harassment to the National leadership.
We appreciate Nigerians for their patience and solidarity during the course of the avoidable strike. The Nigerian health sector shall witness a paradigm shift for the benefit of health care consumers.
Com. Biobelemoye Joy Josiah
National Chairman, JOHESU
Com. Ekpebor Florence
National Secretary, JOHESU