Workers across Nigeria's health sector on Wednesday began what they called a three-day "warning" strike to press the government to correct "certain anomalies" and implement the terms of previous agreements.
"This strike will paralyze health institutions and related agencies, such as the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency and the National Institute for Medical Research, among others," Ibe Nwokenta, chairman of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria chapter in Lagos, told Anadolu Agency.
He said health workers, under the umbrella of the JointHealth Sector Unions/Assembly of Health Care Professional Associations, had declared the three-day warning strike, effective as of today.
According to Nwokenta, health workers and professionals – including medical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses, radiographers, physiotherapists, and information and record officers – are expected to join the strike.
He added that the action was also being supported by security personnel, gatemen, hospital engineers, hospital technicians, hospital administrators and mortuary attendants.
Striking workers do not include medical doctors, however, who other health workers say enjoy "preferential treatment that does not augur well" for the sector.
Nwokenta said that the strike action followed several failed attempts to press the government to addresshealth workers' grievances.
The government, he added, had repeatedly refused to implement the terms of agreements reached earlier with health workers.
He also accused the government of failing to apply a unified salary structure despite a court order directing it to do so.
Nwokenta said that several agreements the unions had hammered out with the government had not been honored.
"We're protesting the grave injustice and persistent industrial discrimination against our members by the government and discriminatory practices againsthealth professionals in the implementation of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure in favor of doctors' Consolidated Salary Structure," he added.
Nwokenta listed other issues of contention, including "continued impunity, arbitrariness and non-implementation of approved schemes of service for union members in hospitals and ministries."
He said that health workers were also fighting selective and discriminatory wage and allowance increases for one group – namely medical doctors – in a multi-disciplinary sector without commensurate treatment for those working in other segments of the healthcare sector.
"Sanction awaits any branch and any union leader who allows skeletal services under his jurisdiction will be penalized," Nwokenta said.
AALast Mod: 22 Ocak 2014, 13:11