The workers are displeased with the federal government’s failure to resolve decade-old issues, and have threatened to resign before the upcoming general elections if the dispute is not resolved.
In a letter to the health minister titled “Looming Industrial Action Over Non-Implementation of Adjusted Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) and Other Pending Demands,” JOHESU and AHPA urged the federal government to act quickly to avert an impending crisis.
JOHESU/AHPA drew the minister’s attention to its members’ failure to pay COVID-19 Hazard Inducement Allowance in 2020.
According to the document, the joint professional bodies had sent several letters to the Federal Ministry of Health regarding the lingering issues, but had received no positive response.
“We find it necessary to remind the Federal Government that Hazard Allowances were approved after months of negotiation for a total of 13 months. While nine of the thirteen months have been paid, we request that the remaining four months be paid immediately,” the letter signed by the acting national secretary, Comrade Matthew Ajurotu, on behalf of Josiah Biobelemoye, the national chairman, reads in part.
JOHESU/AHPA expressed concern about the government’s efforts to streamline wages for health workers on the CONHESS and CONMESS, and asked for an all-inclusive approach in the exercise. “This effort may jeopardize the pre-January 2, 2014 relativity in the wages of workers on the CONHESS and CONMESS because there has been an adjustment at least three times on the CONMESS without a corresponding increase, in violation of the 2014 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the federal government and JOHESU.
We therefore demand that any Health Workers salary review take into account the three CONMESS increments that we were not privileged to enjoy for the sake of justice and equity,” the unions said.
The organizations also demanded that a new retirement age for health workers be approved and implemented. “We strongly urge you to once again facilitate the implementation of the increase in the retirement age of health workers from 60 to 65 years while that of Healthcare Professional Consultants be increased to 70 years. This is the format in the Education Sector to which all Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHIs) are affiliated, and it should be standardised to improve delivery and retention of experienced hands to the Health Sector’s trending brain drain.”
They claimed that since the workers’ unions suspended the strike in 2021, the government had taken their patriotic decision to allow for renegotiations for granted and was unconcerned about it.
The delay is already heating up the peaceful atmosphere in public health institutions that has been maintained since JOHESU/AHPA suspended its industrial action in 2021 to allow for re-negotiation of CONHESS adjustment and other issues contained in the strike notice to the Federal Government.
This patriotic gesture is gradually eroding due to the slow pace with which the Federal Government is handling this matter.
They advised the minister of health to step in and resolve the CONHESS issue by convening an urgent meeting with the association.
“JOHESU/AHPA requests your intervention to convene an urgent High-Level Body (HLB) meeting to resolve the CONHESS adjustment matter, which has been the source of major trade disputes in the health sector.”
The professional bodies have already instructed their state and federal health institution chapters to prepare to mobilize their members for strike action in the first quarter of 2023, “possibly before the presidential elections if the federal government does not provide clear guidance on how it will meet the lingering demands.”
They also drew the government’s attention to the delay in implementing Consultant cadres for pharmacists, as well as the establishment of a public-sector Directorate of Medical Laboratory Science.