The past over sixty-five (65) days witnessed the unprecedented strike action by members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professionals before a temporary ceasefire courtesy of the order of National Industrial Court on 17th May 2018.
Within the period of the strike there were concerted mediation and interventions by State Governors of Kano. Gombe, Delta, Yobe, Edo. Committee of Chairmen of Governing Boards of our Hospitals, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and above all the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the Senate President and others in the Presidency.
But while these well-meaning Nigerians were toiling day and night to ensure that JOHESU is back to work, the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole was dishing out provocative Circulars like a trigger-happy soldier.
But what could have been responsible for the combative posture of our Hon. Minister?
(a) Is It because JOHESU has asked for his removal?
(b) Is it because we debunked his falsehood that said there was “NO AGREEMENT” between the Federal Government and JOHESU prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari” that is responsible for his growing hatred and malice for JOHESU members
It is interesting to note that the Hon. Minister of Health addressed two Circulars to all CMDs/MDs, etc with Ref. DHS/166/1-2/192 of 18. April, 2018 and DHS/166f1-2/232 of 5. June, 2018, respectively, on the strike by the Joint Health Sector Unions with the sole aim to invoke “No work, No pay” as stated In Section 43 of Trade Disputes Act Cap. T8 of 2004, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria when the strike commenced and after the National Industrial Court took over the negotiations between JOHESU and Federal Government In its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) on 30th May. 2018.
However, it is imperative to take a critical look at the two circulars as a way to point out certain infractions and violation of Government Rules and Regulations by the Hon. Minister of Health.
The JOHESU commenced a strike on the the midnight of April, 2018 and simultaneously hours Honourable Minister issued a Circular some of the later on – “No work, No pay” after the start strike. Undoubtedly, the action of the Minister is pre-meditated because, one will be surprised that a minister, who could not implement any of the agreements reached between the Federal Government and JOHESU on 30th September 2017 could have time to issue the Circular of 18- April, 2018.
On the 30- May, 2018, the National Industrial Court, amongst others, ordered that JOHESU is to initiate the process of allowing normalcy to return to hospitals within three days and both parties are to maintain status quo ante bellium while negotiation lasts but surprisingly, the Hon. Minister issued a Circular on 5th June, 2018 to all CMDs/MDs.
- To maintain a strict well supervised Attendance Register in order to implement the “No work, No Pay” law of the Federal Government and
- Consequent upon JOHESU suspending its strike and the resumption of work by health workers on Monday,’ June, 2018, you are directed to submit a final list of health workers who did not participate In the strike and were at work from Wednesday 18′ April, 2018 to Sunday 3rd June, 2018 to enable Government process payment of their salaries. This should be forwarded on or before Friday 13 June, 2018 in both hard and soft copy in Excel Format.
This is a deliberate act to frustrate the work of Alternative Dispute Resolution which the Court should take a serious view.
On 6th of March, 2018, the Governing Boards of our Hospitals and Agencies was inaugurated which presupposes that from that date, the Government Boards automatically become the Employers of workers in the Hospitals.
With utmost respect, we submit that those two Circulars are on discipline of the workers but we want to affirm that the power to exercise disciplinary control over officers in parastatal is vested in the supervisory Boards/Councils in accordance with the, respective conditions of service.
It will not be out of place too to say that the Circular of 5th June, 2018 by the Honourable Minister is uncalled for, provocative and a deliberate attempt to frustrate the work of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
It is now glaringly evident that the Minister of Health is creating the Impression that the Ministry of Health is a personal enterprise, where he can do and undo.
We also refuse to believe that all his directives contained in those Circulars are directed by Mr. President and those in Government who worked relentlessly to ensure an end to strike by JOHESU can support or direct him to issue the obnoxious circulars
Summarily, his Circulars particularly the one dated 5th June, 2018 is an affront to Mr. President and the National industrial Court which should be viewed serious/y. If people who are In the corridor of power believe they can use their privileged positions to intimidate, harass, coerce, deprive their fellow human beings of their means of livelihood, throw them, their families and their dependants in perpetual hunger, they should remember that God is watching everybody.
In 2017, Mr. President attended the United Nations and pledged before the whole world that he will respect the ILO Conventions. We want to affirm unequivocally that section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act of “No work, No pay” has been abolished by .0 Convention 104 of 1955 which is Convention Concerning the Abolition of Penal Sanction for Bridges of Contract of Employment by indigenous Workers.
Our Honourable Minister should state the International Labour Organization Convention that gives employers the right, during strike to invoke or enforce “No work, No pay” law as asserted in his Circular of 1, April, 2018.
We call on our dear President, Mohammadu Buhari to call the Honourable Minister of Health to order not to mar or tarnish the reputation of his administration by the exhibit of personal vendetta against health professionals in our hospitals and order immediate payment of withheld salaries.