By Doris Obinna

The Joint HealthSector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) said it has begun consultations geared towards mobilizing its members ona strike action within the first quarter of 2023.

The body disclosed that it would embark on an industrial action before the Presidential electionsif the Federal Government does not come up with unambiguous insight into how itwill meet the lingering demands of JOHESU/AHPA.

In a letter titled:Looming industrial action over non-implementation of adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), the Union, accused the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH)of double standards in handling CONHESS adjustment and other pending demands affectingJOHESU/AHPA members.

The letter, addressed to the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, the Union expressed gratitude toPresident, Muhammadu Buhari for the payment of April and May 2018 withheldsalaries and implementation and payment of arrears of new hazard allowance.

Highlighting othercurrent state of events, they stated that after about two negotiation meetingsbetween the Federal Government team led by the Minister of Health, and theNational Leadership of Joint Health Sector Unions JOHESU and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA), it was resolved that aninter-ministerial committee involving representatives of JOHESU should be setup to come up with an agreeable template for CONHESS adjustment.

They also alleged that the salaries of physicians has been reviewed upward thrice, leaving thatof other health professionals.

They also called on the Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF), to come up with Schemesof Service for the cadre of all health professionals who have receivedapprovals of the National University Commission for new curriculums and thosethat have received the approval of the OHCSF for Consultant Cadre.

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“Recall that upon JOHESU/AHPAdeclaration of trade dispute in September, 2021, the Chief Conciliator of theFederation and Hon. Minister of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employmentat a conciliatory meeting on September 7, 2022, suggested that issues in disputeespecially CONHESS adjustment be returned to negotiation table between theFederal Ministry of Health and JOHESU/AHPA.

“Consequently, you set up a technicalcommittee to redress the pain of adjusting the CONHESS after eight and a halfyears of rigmarole. This assignment was concluded since December, 2021 and noaction has been taken so far.”

The Unions pleaded with the presidency to release funds for the payment of withheld salaries ofJOHESU members in some federal facilities, payment of omitted inducement andhazard allowances outstanding from 2022.

While demanding tobe part of the ongoing Job Evaluation Committee in Federal Health Institutionsin line with the 2019 consent judgment of the National Industrial Court, Abuja,JOHESU/AHPA is pushing for the Implementation of Consultant Cadre forPharmacists in the Public Service which was first approved by the NationalCouncil on Establishment, NCE, in 2011.

The Unions allegedthat there were several attempts to sabotage the approval until the office ofthe Head of Service of the Federation confirmed to the Federal Ministry ofHealth, FMoH, on March 6, 2020 in a letter ref no. HCSF/SPSO/ODD/NCE/CND.100/S.8/39that the NCE had approved Pharmacist Consultant Cadre.

“The FMoH referred to the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission,NSIWC, in a letter of May 13, 2020 ref no. C.400/11/217/T/21 to develop theappropriate benefit package based on the memo from the HOSOF, to which theNSIWC responded to FMoH via a letter on June 17, 2020 ref no.SWC/S/04/S.218/T//9.”

They however, hope that the variousapparatus of the Federal Government will initiate a prompt intervention andresponse to checkmate the dark clouds gathering over the health sector inNigeria before it is too late.