Activities at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC), Asaba, Delta State, were yesterday, grounded as members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), and joined their counterparts across the country on an indefinite strike action.
Our correspondent, who visited the hospital, yesterday, observed that although there were skeletal services, most of the departments, sections and units manned by JOHESU members were under lock and key.
Most of the patients in the hospital were in a fix as to what might become of their fate from today.
At a press briefing in Asaba, yesterday, the Chairman of the JOHESU, FMC branch, Comrade Ephraim Chukwuemeka, said: “There have been some lingering issues with the health sector of his country that bothers the health care system and as a body we have gone on strikes severally.
According to him, the union had issued an ultimatum to the federal government to look into some of their issues, which were yet to be implemented, adding that the ultimatum had elapsed at midnight (yesterday), and they had no option than to direct their members to embark on an indefinite strike.
He explained that the strike action had necessitated the closure of the hospital, as their members had grounded activities in the hospital because they were not working, stressing that their demands were six, which include the adjustment of CONHESS.
Chukwuemeka recalled that the issues were among the major issues canvassed in the 2014 and 2018 strikes, which to date the government had refused to adjust the CONHESS.
He pointed out that CONHESS was a consolidated health salary structure for other health workers, apart from doctors’ CONMESS, and the increment that was done in the collective bargaining ensured that whenever one salary structure was adjusted the other should be adjusted also.
“As we speak, the CONMESS structure has been adjusted three times and only recently have the resident doctors gone on a warming strike and the government answered them granting their demands”, he said.
The strike action was conveyed in a statement signed by the National Secretary Comr. Matthew Ajorutu, yesterday, stating that “An Emergency National Expanded Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the affiliates of JOHESU/AHPA was held on Monday, 8th May 2023. The NEC-in- Session passed a resolution that a 15-day notice of strike action be issued to Federal Government with effect from 10th May 2022.
“The notice of strike was due to the refusal of the FG to implement the Technical Committee Report on Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) adjustment. Hence leaving Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) with no option but to declare a trade dispute to demand its implementation amongst other outstanding demands” .
The NEC, consequently directed all members of the four affiliates of JOHESU, namely MHWUN, NUAHP, SSAUTHRIAI, NASU and AHPA in all federal health institutions to proceed on an indefinite strike action beginning from yesterday.
The notice also enjoined all state health workers with unresolved trade dispute and outstanding demands to join the nationwide indefinite strike action, threatening that appropriate sanction will be applied to any health facility that sabotage the strike action..