By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA— THE Federal Government, Sunday, described the strike declared by the Joint Health Sector Unions and Assembly of Health Care Professionals, JOHESU as unnecessary, ill-timed and illegal.
The government said its commitment to the health sector was manifest and irrevocable.
The health workers had declared strike starting from 11:59p.m., on Sunday, September 13, over the inability of the Federal Government to meet their demands.
However, the government has directed various unions under JOHESU not to go ahead with the strike, saying the Ministry of Labour and Employment had apprehended the dispute with the conciliation initiated on Thursday, September 9, which was still ongoing.
A statement by the Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, said going ahead with the action would be illegal as it is in clear breach of the ILO Principles and Conventions on Strike and Sec. 18 of the Trades Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
It urged JOHESU not to arm-twist or intimidate the Federal Government that had shown “clear commitment to tackling the challenges in the sector, as evidenced by the huge resources it has been pouring into the sector since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.”
According to the statement, “the Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige, has effectively apprehended the trade dispute as forwarded to him by JOHESU and has brought JOHESU and the Federal Ministry of Health, their employers, to conciliation since Thursday, September 9.
“Parties in disputes are expected not to arm-twist, intimidate or foist helplessness on the other party while negotiations are ongoing as per Sections 8 and 18 the of Trade Dispute Act (TDA) 2004 barring any strike, when the matters are before a conciliator and undergoing conciliation.
“Any strike now is inimical to an equable settlement of the dispute, bearing in mind especially that this is a grave period of a pandemic, where the Federal Government has spent about N20 billion to pay April/May and an additional N8.9 billion for June 2020 on Covid-19 hazard and inducement allowances, respectively, to all categories of health workers that are mainly JOHESU members.”