The Joint Health Sector(JOHESU) on Thursday suspended its 43-day old strike, directing its members to resume work on Friday 1st of June.
The National Executive of the Union took the decision to suspend the strike after what it described as a productive meeting with the Senate President the previous day.
The Union communique confirmed the leadership role that the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki played in the negotiations and their return to work.
A Part of the communique which was signed by its chairman, Comrade Joy Josiah Biebelemoye reads “The various gains from the meetings with the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, were presented to the NEC of JOHESU, after exhaustive deliberations and discussions, the NEC in session approved that the six-week old strike be suspended this day Thursday, May 31, 2018 because of the sympathy the unions have for the suffering Nigerian masses and also to pave way for further negotiations to continue on Monday, June 4, 2018.”
JOHESU lambasted the Federal Government delegation for disrespecting them and siding with the doctors in an ongoing rivalry between non doctors and doctors in the Nigerian health sector.
The Union stated that, “Following a series of meetings with eight members of the Federal Government team under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the Federal Ministry of Health and other agencies of government such as the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Finance, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Department of State Security Services and others, we note with dismay the insincerity and unseriousness exhibited at the negotiation table by the government negotiating team which led to the breakdown of further negotiations and unnecessarily prolonged the strike action.”
JOHESU had initially demanded for the sack of the Federal Minister of health, Prof Isaac Adewole. They argued that his continued stay remains a major barrier to the resolution of the on-going nationwide strike of health workers.
The Health Minister fired back that they should resume immediately and warned that workers will not get paid even when they resume work.
The Chairman of the Union demanded that President Buhari should not only replace Adewole as minister but remove him from the negotiating committee as he was already compromised and not interested in the welfare of non Doctors in the health sector.
The President did not get involved in the negotiations and the strike had totally paralyzed the health sector with reports of pregnant women suffering untold pain with the unavailability of midwives and Nurses.
Other patients were discharged, worsening the situation of many of them. This unfortunate situation lingered on until the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, a trained Dr himself decided to intervene and negotiate with JOHESU.
On the 25th of May The Senate President met with the Minister of Health, Minister of Labour and JOHESU leaders in a bid to end the strike. The Senate President met with the JOHESU leadership again on the 30th of May, The National Chairman of the Union, Biobelemoye Josiah, announced that the meeting with the Senate President was really productive and thanked him for wading in since the Executive were not really interested in their welfare.
The Suspension of the strike is very good news for health care delivery in the country, as Government hospitals can once again function to optimum level. JOHESU insists that they will continue negotiations even after the suspension.