Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU), on Monday, shut down parts of Federal Secretariat Complex Abuja, where the offices of Ministry of Health is located.
The health workers arrived at the complex in large number as early as 8am with placards with several inscriptions. They barricaded the ministry’s entrance and exit gate, thus denying officials entry and exit for several hours.
The workers chanted solidarity songs with the aid of loud public address system. The called the minister and other management staff of the ministry unprintable names.
In the melee, neither the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, nor the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, were seen anywhere around the complex. Other officials who were denied entry were forced to park their cars outside the complex.
Expectedly, early morning official activities in the ministry were forcefully suspended because the unfriendly activities of the obviously aggrieved health workers.
Surprised Ministry of Health workers took precautionary measures, as they watched the protest from afar, conscious of the obvious anger of the health workers.
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JOHESU President, Josiah Biobelemoye, told journalists that the aggrieved workers had, had enough of unfair labour treatment allegedly orchestrated by the Minister of Health.
He said they had wanted to locked down the ministry and occupy it till their requests were met, but they toned down their action because of the intervention by the leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).
He said the peaceful protest was in response to deliberate attempt by the health minister to dishonour several agreements they reached earlier with the health workers.
The JOHESU President said: “Most worrisome was that they have violated several parts of the order of the National Industrial Court. They have equally implemented no work no plan, which was contrary to the suggestions of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) team.
“We never requested for equality. We only requested for equity. We ought to have commenced a nationwide strike on Monday or Tuesday, but swift intervention came from a highly respected clergyman over the weekend, who pleaded for more time to intervene.
“We have agreed to soft pedal and watch the outcome of the intervention this week. We won’t hesitate to embark on a strike by the end of this week if we fail to get positive response.”
Meanwhile, the NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, who was represented by Nuhu Toro, assured the health workers of the full backing of the umbrella body of labour unions in Nigeria in their struggle to get a better working condition.
He appreciated the matured conduct of the aggrieved workers and encouraged them to be steadfast in their effort to get a better working condition.