Govt threatens health workers over nationwide strike

The Federal Government said last night that the indefinite strike action embarked upon by health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions was unjustified, threatening to invoke the relevant labour laws in dealing with the striking workers if they fail to return to their duty post.

In a statement signed by the Director of Press in the Ministry, Samuel Olowokore said the government was surprised that the workers embarked strike despite the government keeping faith with the terms of agreement signed between the unions and the government.

While appealing to the workers to consider the plight of sick Nigerians and return to work, the statement said the government would not fold its hands and watch innocent Nigerians subjected to untold hardship.

It said that the decision of the health workers to embark on strike was surprising saying “it is surprised that many of the Health Workers Unions operating under the joint group, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) embarked on another round of nationwide strike despite government’s demonstrable commitment to the implementation of the agreement reached with it since their last strike of 20thSeptember 2017.

‘At a period the Federal Government is faithfully managing lean resources to ensure industrial harmony in all sectors, a measure of patriotism is expected of all labour unions to enable government have an equable social and very good labour milieu in which workers could be assured of security of employment.

“It is on record that government has met almost all the demands of these unions on issues such as the payment of promotion arrears, salary shortfalls among others as per the agreement reached on September 30th2017.”

“The Federal Government therefore wishes to appeal to JOHESU to reconsider its position in view of the immeasurable consequences of its action on sick patients in hospitals across the nation.”

“While the Federal Government restates its commitment to the implementation of the Terms of Settlement reached with JOHESU, it shall not however fail in its sacred responsibility of protecting the lives of the numerous patients in all public health institutions where this group of health workers have unjustifiably withdrawn their services.

“If this group of health workers persist on continuing this strike, Government will be forced to invoke the provisions of the relevant labour laws, especially Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap.T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 as well as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles concerning employers rights over strikes in essential services sector,” the statement concluded.

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