Frontline Health workers threaten strike action over COVID-19 allowance


A fresh strike action will be exercised , if the Federal Government refuses to resolve the anomalies in the payment of COVID-19 hazard allowance, Frontline health workers warn .

The health workers under the aegis of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) stated that they can not guarantee industrial harmony in the health system if the ten per cent wrongly paid to some of its members as COVID-19 allowance was not addressed by relevant authorities.

Leading a delegation to the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Prof. Ekele Bisalla to check on its members working in the isolation facility, the National President of MHWUN, Comrade Josiah Biobelemoye issued the warning.

Biobelemoye further said that the union has resolved to shut down the health system if government didn’t correct the anomalice before payment of the third batch of the COVID-19 allowances.

He explained that the Federal Ministry of Health was only trying to create division among health care workers irrespective of their professions.

According to him, the agreement signed with the Ministry of Health on the covid-19 allowance was that those who earned five thousand naira as hazard allowance would be replaced with 50 per cent of their basic salary.

The union leader further lamented that instead of implementing the agreement accordingly, the CMDs of various hospitals were misled to implement only the “D part of the agreement, which they misunderstood to be given 10 percent to our members consider as non medical professionals.”

He added: “There is one misinformation that has been going round about covid-19 allowances. we entered an agreement and is explicit, the agreement in paragraph one part A, B, C and D is very clear but the CMDs were misled to acting in only paragraph D, leaving out full aspect of paragraph A, B and C.

“This was confirmed even when we met with the Federal Ministry of Health officials, they agreed that there was an error and asked us to provide for them the lists of those that were wrongly paid 10 per cent, we have done that with the financial implication.

“So we want to make it open to your management team now so that the circular with the wrong information can be withdrawn and replaced with the corrected one. This is because in the agreement, paragraph one A states that the five thousand hazard allowance has been shelved and in its place, 50 per cent shall be approved for all health workers and not health professionals.

“It also says that for those who are not serving the public, like police, military or NNPC clinics, theirs will be 40 per cent, while those who are working in covid-19 centres will have extra 20 per cent. So we feel when you go for CMDs meeting, you can also brief them, especially for fair minded CMDs like you to do the correction and if they fail to do that before they pay the third batch, we may not guarantee industrial harmony within the system.

“We also want them to know that an hour disharmony in the health sector at this critical time would cost this country much more than they will use to pay for correct value. So we want fair minds like you to tell the government.”

Biobelemoye said the union was not asking for the same salary with medical doctors, urging the leaders in the health sector to ensure actions that would promote industrial harmony in the system and not the other way round.

“Other issue that if not addressed the hospitals will not be peaceful is the issue of CONHESS adjustment. This has been misinterpreted especially by our brothers, I am saying this because if the leaders have done the necessary thing, may be there won’t be any need to form another union,” he said.

He however commended Bisalla for the peaceful co-existence between the union and the management of the hospital.

According to him, industrial harmony in a workplace can encourage productivity.

“We want you to share your magic with other leaders in health institution so that we can have a peaceful health system in the country.

“Because you and I know that public health institutions are the cheapest that ordinary Nigerians can afford, so if you share that magic wand with them and there is peaceful harmony there will be better output in the health system in the country,” he added.

Fatimah Oyesanmi

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