By Frank Ikpefan, Abuja
The leadership of health workers under the umbrella of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) is in a meeting to decide if they should shelve an industrial action slated for Sunday or accept the new agreement reached with the Federal Government on Thursday night.
The meeting, which began at 12noon, was ongoing as at the time of filling this report.
Although JOHESU leadership reached an agreement with the Federal Government at a conciliatory meeting brokered by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the union refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding(MoU), citing previous experiences where government reneged on its decision.
At the end of the meeting attended by Ngige; Minister of State, Labour Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of State, Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora; JOHESU Chairman, Biobelemoye Josiah, and other officials, the government stated it has appropriated N126 billion in the 2020 COVID-19 intervention Appropriation Act for infrastructure upgrading and equipment for the health.
According to a communiqué at the end of the meeting, the government blamed lack of effective communication for the unions to appreciate the degree of investments made in the sector by the President Muhammadu Buhari – led administration.
Going forward, the government agreed to carry the unions along in the affairs of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 to ensure proper communication.
Also, parties at the end of the meeting equally agreed that private sector engagement should also be encouraged as this would add value to the health sector investment generally.
According to the communiqué, the meeting agreed to effect the gaps identified by JOHESU in the implementation of the Special COVID-19 Hazard and Inducement Allowance in which unions alleged that many of its members were either omitted or short-paid.
The meeting agreed the Federal Ministry of Health should issue a circular to the Chief Medical Directors of the various Health Institutions by Friday, September 11 requesting JOHESU to forward the list of members affected by the shortfall to the ministry by Monday.
JOHESU was asked to mobilise members in local chapters of the tertiary health institutions to ensure that the CMDs forward the list of their members to the ministry to facilitate the payment.
On the issue of medical personnel in the education sector that were not captured in the first tranche of payments, the communiqué noted the omission was not peculiar to JOHESU members alone.
The health minister said he would consult with the relevant ministers on how to address the issue as clinics/hospitals under Federal Ministries of Education, Justice and Defence were equally affected.
The meeting was adjourned till October 15 to enable the health ministry to carry out the assignments.