On Wednesday last week, the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) directed all its members in federal tertiary health institutions to proceed on a seven-day warning strike.
But the Federal Government, through the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, described JOHESU as an unregistered and illegal body.
“The attention of the Federal Government has been drawn to the activities of a group of trade unions operating as an unregistered Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) under the Federal Ministry of Health, which has declared a seven-day warning strike effective today, June 22nd, 2016.
“The Federal Government wishes to state unambiguously that the so-called warning strike is ill advised and in bad faith, more so as the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment has since waded into the matter and is in fact, in negotiation with the Ministry of Health and the affected health unions,” Ngige stated in a release signed by him.
The declaration has shocked the leadership of the union, forcing angry reactions from their quarters. The President of the Medical and Health Workers Union (MHWUN), Biobelemoye Josiah, and the President, Assembly of Health Care Professionals Association, Godswill Okara, on Saturday, threatened to declare a full-blown nationwide strike, if government failed to address their demands after the end of the ongoing seven-day warning strike in all federal tertiary health institutions.
Comrades Josiah and Okara described as laughable, the position of the minister.
They declared that JOHESU is made up of registered trade unions and is therefore legal, while the strike was done in accordance with the Nigeria labour laws, after a combination of 92 days ultimatum had been issued and given to the government regarding the issues in contention.
They pointed out that the recent strike was a continuation of a suspended strike, which in the first place did not require giving further strike notice.
According to Josiah, “It is laughable. The strike is very legal; very legitimate. It is legitimate in the sense that we have followed due process. The strike was suspended on the 4th of February last year. It is the same issues that have been lingering till this day. So, if we are resuming a strike that was suspended, would you say that is illegal?”
Also speaking, Okara regretted that the Federal Government could come out to say it had no agreement with JOHESU, adding that it was a high level of insincerity.
Credit: This Day