The Delta state executive members of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) after hours of emergency meeting in Asaba have suspended the strike the association commenced on Thursday, December 3, 2020.
The meeting was held on Sunday and the nurses all over the state are expected to resume work on Tuesday December 8, 2020. The suspension, according to the union leaders, is for two weeks to give opportunity for the state governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, to intervene and resolve all standing issues, Emerald News reports.
There has been a long drawn battle between the commissioner for health, Dr. Mordi Ononye, and the nurses in the state over series of issues ranging from appointment of a junior officer to head nursing department in the ministry of health among other plethora of demands.
Some of the members who spoke to Emerald News after the meeting on Sunday said the strike was embarked on following the nonchalant attitude of the health commissioner towards the demands of the nurses in Delta state.
“We gave them 21 days ultimatum to respond to our issues, they did not respond. We proceeded to another 14 days, there was no reaction. They kept mute. Then, we moved again to seven days, they ignored us. That was why SEC decided to call for strike,” one of the members told our reporter on Sunday.
Following the declaration of strike, a monitoring team was sent out to enforce compliance. But members of the team that went to Agbor and Warri were arrested and detained for almost nine hours.
Reports say they were manhandled and harassed at Agbor and Warri police stations before they were transferred to the state police headquarters where they were eventually released after series of interventions from leadership of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and others.
Emerald News learnt that police who arrested members of the monitoring team in Agbor were well behaved but those who arrested members in Warri were very brutal as they dealt with members and pushed them into cells.
Another senior member of the executive said the members arrested were unjustly arrested. She said the police and some other principal nurses agreed that they were unjustly arrested, having committed no offense.
The association said the governor called and demanded to have audience with them and for the fact that they respect the governor for always standing by his words, they had to suspend the strike for two weeks to allow the governor respond and rectify all the anomalies.
The union leaders told our reporter that one major demand among a plethora of others is the issue of a level 14 murse becoming the state director of nursing services in the ministry of health. To them, it is an aberration.
“There are level 16 and 17 officers who could be on that position. It is out of place for a junior nurse to become director, and making policies for nurses in Delta state. We are demanding that the most senior nurse be placed at that level,” another executive member said.
The nurses who could not fathom the reason for the move to appoint a junior nurse as director of nursing services, said the the governor is not tribalistic adding “we know the governor is a father to all Deltans, that is why we are fully in support of his administration.”