Being the text of Press Briefing address by the Chairman
Joint Health Sector Union Com. (Dr.) Ayuba P. Wabba, mni
on 16th December, 2014
ON MEETINGS BETWEEN JOHESU AND GOVERNMENT
|Com Ayuba P. Wabba, Chair JOHESU & Com Faniran Vice Chair|
It could be recalled that the Joint Health Sector Unions declared an industrial action on the 12th of November, 2014 as a matter of last resort. This was due to government’s refusal to fully implement agreements freely entered into by the Federal Government with JOHESU and refusal to implement Judgment of the NICN delivered on July 22, 2013.
We have had two meetings without meaningful progress; but most sadly is the lack of commitment and seriousness on the part of Federal Ministry of Health, during both and also in between meetings.
At the last meeting between the Federal Government and JOHESU on the 19th November, 2014 government requested for 24days to look into all our demands and consequently fixed another meeting for 15th December, 2014. Disappointingly at the meeting of Monday 15th December, 2014, key officials of Federal Ministry of Health notably the Minister, Permanent Secretary, and Directors were conspicuously absent thereby stalling the meeting.
THREATS AND INTIMIDATION OF OUR MEMBERS
We are disturbed, that instead of Government showing concern and demonstrating commitment towards bringing an end to the plight of Nigerians and health workers by addressing the issues and restoring Public Health Services, it resorted to acts of intimidation culminating in the directive contained in Circular Ref. DHS/PLC/01/P/130 dated 9th December, 2014.
Furthermore the ignominious use of the police to brutalize our members against all known universal industrial relation norms is condemnable. If the situation continues it may lead to breakdown of law and order in our health institutions similar to that witnessed in ABUTH and other Hospitals in the 1990s.
3. HEALTH WORKERS’ RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND COLLECTIVE BARGAINING CANNOT BE WISHED AWAY
The Federal Government of Nigeria is a signatory to the ILO Conventions 87 & 98 which guarantee Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining for Trade Unions and which have both been domesticated in our labour laws.
Further, the Trade Unions Act (2005) is quite explicit and unambiguous in enshrining the respect for disputes of right i.e where and when trade unions embark on industrial action in situations where collective agreements are violated by the employers.
In the light of the foregoing which is objectively verifiable, JOHESU has fulfilled all righteousness and our strike action is both legal and legitimate. The invocation of “no work, no pay” by the Federal Government is totally flawed and holds no water, whatsoever.
If any party is to be sanctioned here, in line with the laws of the land, it should be the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) for treating collective agreements the FGN freely entered into with JOHESU and which the NICN upheld, with utter disdain and contempt.
We thus call for respect for our due right to strike based on what is a dispute of right.
4. DIRECTIVE FOR TOTAL COMPLIANCE WITH THE ONGOING INDUSTRIAL ACTION
Arising from the obvious tactics of intimidation and brutalization of our members in demanding for their legitimate rights and the obvious exhibition of bias against JOHESU by the Federal Ministry of Health including the refusal of key officers of the Ministry to attend the meeting of December 15, 2014, we are compelled to:
i). Direct our members to suspend all forms of skeletal and concessional services in all healthcare facilities and ensure TOTAL COMPLIANCE with the strike action.
ii). As a matter of necessity branch meetings should hold regularly for the enforcement of members’ rights and liberties and to resist any form of brutalization, intimidation and oppression, through all legitimate means.
iii). Members should gird their loins for a long drawn battle if need be, as we will not turn back until victory is achieved.
We call on all well-meaning Nigerians to call on the Federal Government to live up to its constitutional obligation of respect for the rule of law by implementing the collective agreements reached since 2009 till date.
This is a struggle foisted on us and in as much as we find it painful to prosecute with our sincere concern for common Nigerians, we are left with no choice but to take this path of struggle as we call on the Federal Government to tow the path of honour and justice.