Healthcare workers commence warning strike in Kaduna, Ogun amid COVID-19 pandemic

The Kaduna State Healthcare Workers Unions and Associations have commenced a 7-day warning strike.

The Kaduna State Government had rejected the planned strike action by the Congress of Health Workers Unions and Associations in the state.

The state government said it has therefore introduced a register to be signed by those willing to work with the government, despite the salary cut-down.

A communiqué issued and signed by Dr Danjuma Sule, Dr Emmanuel Joseph, Dr Sayyid Egbunu Mjhammed, Mr Ibrahim Abashe, Pharm. Bagu Great David, Ibrahim Lawal Suleiman, Ayuba Magaji, Nurse Ishaku Yakubu, Dr Stephen Kachi Akau, Dr Jinad Jibril Olawale, Lawal T. B., Enock I. Dodo, William Anthony and Sa’adatu Abdulwahab from MDCAN BDTH, ARD, Kaduna, ARD BDTH, National Association of Pharmaceutical Technologists Nigeria, AHAPN, Kaduna branch, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Kaduna state chapter, NANNM, Kaduna state council, NMA, Kaduna state chapter, Nigeria Society of Physiotherapy, Kaduna state chapter, AMLSN, Kaduna branch, Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria, NANNM BDTH and AHAPN BDTH respectively at the end the joint meeting of Kaduna State Healthcare Workers Unions and Associations said the meeting was called to assess the response of the Kaduna state government to their earlier communication and notice of a 7- days warning strike to press home their demands.

The meeting observed that the Kaduna state government deducted 25% of the salaries from about 11,000 of her Healthcare workers amid COVID-19 ( April and May), stressing that the action was done in violation of section 5 of the Labour Act.

The communiqué noted that healthcare workers feel rejected and unappreciated by the Kaduna state government and are therefore demoralized and unmotivated.

“We also note that there are inaccuracies in the reportage of our challenges and the issues at hand,” the communiqué stressed.

The communiqué clarified, “Kaduna State Government paid between 150,000 to 450,000 naira as Occupational Safety incentives to about 300 selected HCWs and non HCWs working as staff or volunteer in the IDCC and isolation centre or serving in some of the CoViD 19 pillars. Less than 2% of the HCWs in the State benefited from the packages.

“They promised 10 per cent incentives for other HCWs though inadequate are yet to be paid.

Most HCWs that were infected with COVID-19 are from health facilities outside the IDCC and isolation centres and none of them has been paid the purported N100,000 daily for 10 days.

“None of our members working in hospitals have been contacted to give their details for the widely publicized N5million and the N2 million life and disability insurance respectively.

“All health workers are exposed to varying degrees of risk of infectious diseases such as CoViD 19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Lassa fever, Ebola fever among others. There are no adequate PPEs in the State hospitals as evidenced by Patients buying their own gloves and, HCWs getting their own personal facemask and eye goggles among other basic PPEs.”

The communiqué explained, “Up until Thursday 21st May 2020, the Unions and Associations were opened to negotiations and honoured an invitation for a meeting called by the honourable commissioner of health even at very short notice.

“However issues raised at the meeting were not considered by the government, rather our members were inundated with a Circular signed by the Commissioner of health, threatening no work no pay. This was followed by a press release with a threat from the government to sack any of our members who Participates in the strike action.

“Based on the above, we wish to state that the 7- days warning strike has commenced as we earlier notified from noon today Friday 22nd MAY, 2020.

We want to thank our members for complying with the directive of the unions and associations in the Kaduna Health Sector.

“The general public should take note that we are open to dialogue and should, therefore, prevail on the state government to listen to the voice of reason and do the needful to avert the avoidable crisis in the Health Sector of the State.”

Similarly, doctors in Ogun State have embarked on what they termed weekend strike.

The doctors, under the auspices of the Association of Resident Doctors, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sagamu, said they have resolved to discharge their duties during working days of the week only.

This, they said, was because they were concerned for the people in these trying times, saying “we have decided to sit at home on weekends.”

It was gathered that the resident doctors had earlier embarked on a three-day warning strike, alleging that there has not been any commitment whatsoever from the Ogun State government on the issue of Appropriate Remuneration, Entry Level, New Minimum Wage, Hazard allowance and Life Insurance for their members.

The medical practitioners said they have written letters to the government, but there was no response.

However, at a meeting he held with health workers’ unions in his office a week after, Governor Dapo Abiodun appealed to the health workers in the state not to allow issues degenerate, as he appealed to them to always keep communication open with his administration.

Abiodun, it was reported, promised the health workers that he will put in place life insurance policy for them, increasing their hazard allowance by 300 per cent.

He said he would have started the life insurance programme immediately, but he is waiting to go along with the Federal Government, which he said was also planning something similar.

Also, he assured that health workers would benefit from the new minimum wage.

But, in a statement signed by the President, Dr Mutiu Popoola, on Friday, the association said they were chastised at the meeting they held with Gov Abiodun for allegedly choosing to go on strike during this period of pandemic.

“We gave ultimatums, still no response. And then we went on a warning strike. Then we were called to a meeting. But surprisingly, we were chastised for choosing this time to agitate. But that is not true, our agitation pre-dated COVID-19 Pandemic by many months,” he said.

Speaking further, Popoola said the association had expected that the government would look into their requests after the meeting.

He, however, expressed displeasure, when he said, “but alas, like the proverbial cutlass, it still landed on the flat side! The sincerity on the government’s side is invisible to us.”

In their resolution, the resident doctors said:

“Since the government has chosen to simply rub the issues, without any form of real commitment to begin to treat us fairly, we have resolved to discharge our duties only during working days of the week because we were concerned for the people in these trying times, we have decided to sit at home on weekends.

“We hope the Ogun State government will wake up to its responsibility and our congress shall review in two weeks if any worthwhile transformation occurs. We have decided to leave our members working directly in the COVID-19 treatment centre to go on with their duties uninterrupted, within this additional two-week wait, after which we would reappraise and determine what next.

“We are sincerely willing to attend to the health needs of Ogun State and its environs, and we have waited and waited and waited, but there is a limit to which it would be right to keep on enduring this insensitivity to the continued unfair treatment of the resident doctors.”

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