As the on-going strike embarked upon by members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) gradually paralyses Nigeria’s health sector, a human resource expert, Dr. Femi Solomon, has described the action as unnecessary and a reflection of inordinate ambition on the part of the striking medical workers.
Solomon, in a chat with New Telegraph, condemned the action of the medical workers, saying that the call for pay parity with medical doctors is only heard of in this part of the world. Although appeal has come from different quarters including the Federal Government and members of the public for them to go back to work, the leadership of the union appears to be resolute in its decision to sustain the strike indefinitely.
Despite the appeal and clarification that the Consolidated Health Sector Salary Structure (CONHESS) table that corresponds with the 2014 Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) adjustment with the medical doctors had been appropriately addressed by the National Salary Income and Wages Commission and given as an offer in the spirit of equity, the union went ahead to include states and local government health workers in its strike.
JOHESU members include Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU), Medical and Health Workers’ Union of Nigeria, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives, Senior Staff Association of Universities Teaching Hos-pitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions and the Nigeria Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine.
Between 2017 and now, this is about the second or third time the union would be embarking on either a total or warning strike, thereby putting the already failing health sector and by extension, lives of the masses, in danger.
Solomon, a consultant based in the United States, said many factors were often considered before salary structures are designed for institutions and organisations by government and other employers respectively. According to him, sometimes it goes beyond academic qualification to include the uniqueness and essential need of the individual to be employed.
“This is where human resource education is also very important. The problem too is that Nigeria is not an organised society otherwise some of these things should be spelt out to the employee at the point of entry.
It is not after he has been smuggled into the system through the assistance of a big uncle before you open up the facts to him. While aligning with some Nigerians that the demand of the striking worker is frivolous, absurd and not obtainable anywhere in the world, he said:
“The Federal Government that placed that bar knew what it was doing and it is not enough now for individual to come and hold everybody to ransom just for their selfish interest. While I am not opposed to the workers’ call for improved welfare, I, however, do not subscribe to their demand for pay parity with the doctors.”
He said that the medical sector was not the only one with pay disparity, stressing that if all institutions were to enjoy pay according to what they engaged in, the police would demand equal pay with the military since they are always on ground to contain insecurity while soldiers are holed up in the barracks only to be deployed in the event of an external aggression.
He, therefore, advised the union members to call off their strike, go back to work and save the lives of poor masses, who are mostly the ones using government health facilities. His appeal came just as the Federal Government also restated its call on the union members to save the nation’s health sector from further disaster. Specifically, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, in a bid to further calm the nerves of the striking workers, castigated the leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) by telling them to stop meddling in the current crisis.
He said the doctors should stop meddling in the strike, adding that such meddlesomeness arising from an unhealthy inter- union rivalry will adversely put pressure on social dialogue mechanism.
Ngige reminded the striking workers that the CONHESS table that corresponds with the 2014 CONMESS adjustment with the medical doctors has been appropriately addressed by the National Salary Income and Wages Commission.
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