President of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Biobelemoye Josiah who made the assertion in Abuja Monday said the government has failed to implement an agreement signed between health workers and the government to adjust salaries of workers even though it has done the same thing for medical doctors who constitute less than five percent of health workers in the country.
Josiah said the Federal Ministry of Health has decided to play games with health workers and the agreement freely signed, but waiting to invoke the no work, no pay policy of government when it has not obey its own said of the bargain.
Josiah had told the NLC President who led the ,leadership of the congress to visit the union that very soon, unions in the health sector under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions will shut down the health system in the country due to government failure to implement the 2014 collective agreement to adjust salaries of workers in the health sector.
According to him, the government has adjusted salaries for medical doctors who constitute less than five percent of health workers in the country, pointing out that even though not a registered trade union, the Federal ministry of Health pays more attention to, and gives more recognition to the medical doctors at the expense of other health professionals.
He said: “We are calling on NLC to help us in these areas. First, there is huge discrimination in the health industry. It is an industry where, a professional group that makes up only five per cent or less than five per cent across board is given preferential treatment.
“When you aggregate the work force at the national and the state levels, medical doctors constitue less than five per cent of the work force, but they are given everything that they demand for. They are given preferential treatment. Even though they are not a registered trade union, they are given more recognition in the ministry
“In 2014, we fought that battle for salary adjustment and they have adjusted for the medical doctors. But the memorandum of understanding that we signed with them is being disputed. The Federal Ministry of Health almost denied that such a thing took place unitill we were able to provide the documents.
“But as we speak, they have not been able to adjust that salary for us and it has cause serious ripple within the health system and sooner or later, it might lead to complete shutdown. When the JOHUSU family meets, we are going to take far reaching decisions on that
“I am bringing this up to you for your intervention not because we are afriad to go the battle field, but because we have serious concern for the Nigerian citizens. When we shut down, who it is the masses that will suffer.
“Another threat to the health sector and the work force is the use of no work no pay, by the federal ministry of Health. After entering into agreement, after meeting on this agreement and they refused to listen to us, we said it is our right to withdraw services.
“At that point, what the Federal Ministry Health will do is for them to wait for us to redraw our services and then they will say they are now invoking the no work no pay policy.
“Our people recently carried out a survey and they have also mandated us that either no work no pay, it is time we shut down the system and that brings us to the concern of citizens of Nigeria
Josiah stressed that the union was against the privatization or any decision to concession or operate the nation’s health institution, stressing that Nigerian will be denied quality and affordable health services if that is allowed to take place.
He said “Nigerians should not in any case accept any of those items be it privatization, public, private partnerships or concession. For example sir, the Garki Hospital where the PPP is being operational today that hospital is out of reach of the poor masses, card alone is N4000
“We still believed that public health institutions are established for public good or to serve as a social service point for the four runners. So we are standing here to say no to privatization public health institutions and this is the position of the Public Service International where they said health is not for sale.
“Very soon, we will be launching that programme after conferring with other unions in the health sector. I want to say that the issue of no work, no pay, if not addressed, where an employer will violate an agreement and where you have met all the conditions will take it as a mark of intimidation, to intimidate workers across the country simply means that they have taken from us, the right to protest and the reintroduction of slave Labour.
“In other words, they are saying we are slave and cannot complain. I want tell the highest Labour body in the country that it is not the way to go and you should help free us from that problem so that Nigerians will have the right to protest or say no to bad policies and bad governance”.