Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has directed the striking health workers to resume work immediately or be considered to have absconded from duty.
The minister gave the directive to Chief Medical Officers of all federal government owned hospitals late Monday night.
This came as the leadership of JOHESU, said it would for a second time in the last 48 hours meet with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, today in efforts to resolve the protracted industrial action.
The leadership had earlier met with the Senate on Monday in a bid to resolve the current impasse that has crippled activities in government health institutions in the past 43 days.
At a briefing, JOHESU President, Biobelemoye Josiah, said: “We shall be meeting with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, again on Wednesday in continuation of our meeting with him on Monday.
“JOHESU leaders are hopeful that this intervention will lead to a resolution of the strike soonest and further deliberation or discussion on all outstanding issues.”
Meanwhile, on the resumption directive, Prof Adewole warned that anyone who failed to resume would be considered to have absconded from duty without leave, an act considered a serious misconduct in line with Public Service Rule 030413.
He insisted that everyone who participated in the strike would not be paid for the period of the strike even if the strike was called off. The minister urged chairmen of the boards of health institutions to take charge of their facilities and that any chief executive not willing to keep the services running, should be suspended and be replaced with another officer in acting capacity. “We want you to go back and restore services in your various institutions immediately.
The clinics must run, theatres must be opened. There is no reason why they should lock your theatres. No one has the right to lock up government hospitals,” the minister said.
Reacting to the minister’s directive, National Chairman, Assembly of Healthcare Professional Unions, Dr. Godswill Okara, said the health workers might be coerced to resume but that could not guarantee their commitment to duty.
He said: “I am aware of the minister’s directives. We may be forced to resume duties latest by next Monday but that does not guarantee that every worker will put his heart to work and express maximum commitment to meeting the needs of the health-seeking public.
“So, the best solution to the logjam is not threat or coercion but discussions, negotiations and reconciliations. However, we hope for amicable resolution of the dispute.”