The Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, which represents healthcare workers, is pleading with President Muhammadu Buhari to move quickly on their demands for the Consolidated Health Salary Structure, CONHESS, to be adjusted, as was done for the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS.
The Union stated this position in a news release that was issued on behalf of its National Chairman by its Acting National Secretary, Comrade Matthew Ajurotu. The Union encouraged the Federal government to take precautions to avoid what it called a “looming night of contending long knives.”
They cautioned that in order to prevent events from spiraling out of control following President Buhari’s personal participation, the Presidency should quickly pressure the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (ML&E) to swiftly handle all thorny issues.
He also mentioned that the leadership of JOHESU/AHPA and the National Executive Committee had begun holding several consultation meetings on August 20 and September 7, 2022, to examine the development of their stalled strike.
According to him, the progress report on the JOHESU strike, which has been suspended out of respect for President Buhari, is still one of the meeting’s most important subjects.
“The JOHESU/AHPA finds it imperative to convey its gratitude to the FG for ensuring fairness and justice are dispensed to all segments of the perennially troubled Health Sector in Nigeria.
“We find it very necessary to put on record our deep appreciation of efforts to get JOHESU/AHPA members paid their long withheld April and May 2018 salaries due to high wire schemes and intrigues of our sector which played out at high levels and compelled the avoidable and unnecessary seizures of the salaries of our members.
JOHESU thanked the Presidency for ensuring that large quantities of money were budgeted to cover special staff wages in all sectors, including the health sector, and accused the FMOH of thwarting any attempts to seriously address their requests.
They also outlined their requests for 2021, which include the introduction of the Consultant Cadre for Pharmacists in the Public Service, payment of Reviewed Hazard Allowances and other Welfare Packages, and adjustment of CONHESS as was done for CONMESS.
“We find it necessary to inform you that agitation for this started eight and a half years ago when the federal government adjusted the CONMESS for Physician Cadre in Federal Public Service.
“The Chief Conciliator of the Federation and Hon. Minister of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment as well as his counterpart in the Federal Ministry of Health set up a Technical Committee to redress the pain of adjusting the CONHESS after eight and a half years of rigmarole. This assignment was concluded in December 2021 and for reasons of manipulations by the FMOH, all efforts to implement the report of the Technical Committee have been stalled in the last 8 months.
“The National Assembly has presently provided a sum of N200 billion service-wide vote which is earmarked to take care of exigencies in the system including N80 billion provided for adjustment of CONHESS as was done for CONMESS for JOHESU members and other needs in the Health Sector.”
According to JOHESU, some withheld salaries for their workers in the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, JUTH, and LUTH who had issues with their management are still unpaid, notwithstanding the release of withheld April and May 2018 salary for JOHESU members.
They bemoaned the fact that the development was concerning because it was still producing entropy in those facilities.
In the best interests of the nation, JOHESU urged the Presidency to address the demand.
The Union claimed that for more than six months in 2021, JOHESU/AHPA negotiated the payment of the allowances to health workers while the government consistently assured citizens that more than N40B had been set aside for the project.
After eight months, we are disappointed to see that the Federal government has still not started paying out the allowances, which the government negotiating team conceded were woefully inadequate to cover the risks associated with care provision in any viable health system.
“In a similar spirit, we strongly urge you to once again facilitate the implementation of the increase in retirement age of Health workers from 60 to 65 years while that of Consultants in non-Physician Cadre be increased to 70 years.”