JOHESU STRIKE: Federal Government Threatens “No Work, No Pay” Policy
The Federal Government has reacted to the ongoing strike embarked on by members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).
JOHESU, the association of other health workers apart from medical doctors and dentists, on Tuesday midnight, began an indefinite strike over the failure of the federal government to meet agreement it had with the union last September.
Reacting to the development, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, on Wednesday, said the government was shocked by the decision of the union to embark on another round of nationwide strike, despite its commitment to the implementation of an agreement reached with them in September 2017.
However, he threatened that government will not fail to wield the big stick by invoking the “no work, no pay,” if they fail to return to their duty.
A statement from the Press Directorate of the ministry said “If this group of health workers persists 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”, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment said in a statement Wednesday by its Director of Press, Samuel Olowookere.
Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act states that where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or other remuneration for the period of the strike, and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly.
“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 30, 2017.
“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.”
JOHESU, however, dismissed the threat by the government “No be today we begin hear that kind thing, we are ready for anything. We are not moved”, the National Vice Chairman of JOHESU, Ogbonna Chimela, said Wednesday evening.
“Our stand is that the No work No pay rule is not going to hold water and even if they want to do it let them do it, but we shall not come back to work until our demands are met,” he added.
On the claim by the government that it has met all the demands of the unions, the JOHESU leader said the promotional arrears the government was talking about is not among the major demands of the union on which it struck a deal with the government.
“Promotion arrears is not a serious matter in what we are discussing, the major issue is the adjusted CONHESS salary and it was left undone. That was the basis to which we suspended the strike of 30th September, they have not met that demand. That was the first thing on the agreement form and that is one of the major reasons why we embarked on this strike”, the union leader explained.