Health workers in Kaduna State, Saturday, dared Governor Nasir el-Rufai and downed tools for a 7-day warning strike.
The industrial action, which took immediate effect, according to a communiqué issued to the media by the Kaduna State Healthcare Workers Unions and Associations on Saturday, stemmed from issues yet to be resolved between them and the government. This was contained in a communique issued at the end of the joint meeting of.
The communiqué was signed by chairman, MDCAN BDTH, Danjuma Sale; President ARD Kaduna, Dr Emmanuel Joseph; Chairman, National Association of Pharmaceutical Technologists and Pharmacy Technology of Nigeria, Mr Ibrahim Abashe and chairman, NMA Kaduna, Dr Stephen Akau Kache, as well as 10 other state healthcare workers’ unions and associations. They said all 14 leaders of healthcare workers unions and associations in Kaduna were present at the meeting.
According to the communiqué, the meeting was called to assess the response of the state government to their earlier communication and notice of a 7- days warning strike to press home their demands.
“We observed that Kaduna State government deducted 25% of the salaries from about 11,000 of her Healthcare workers in the midst of COVID 19 (April and May). This action was done in violation of section 5 of the Labour Act.
“Kaduna State Government paid between 150,000 to 450,000 naira as Occupational Safety incentives to about 300 selected HCWs and non HCWs working as staff or volunteer in the IDC and isolation centre or serving in some of the COVID-19 pillars. Less than 2% of the HCWs in the State benefited from the packages,” they said.
The Kaduna health workers disclosed that the promised 10% incentives for other HCWs, though inadequate was yet to be paid. They said most HCWs that were infected with COVID-19 were from health facilities outside the IDCC and isolation centres and none of them had been paid the purported N100,000 daily for 10 days.
“None of our members working in hospitals have been contacted to give their details for the widely publicized N5million and the N2 million life and disability insurance, respectively.
“All health workers are exposed to varying degrees of risk of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, Lassa fever, Ebola fever among others.
“There are no adequate PPEs in the State hospitals as evidenced by a. Patients buying their own gloves; b. HCWs getting their own personal facemask and eye goggles among other basic PPEs.”
The aggrieved health Workers said it was imperative to clarify that their action was not in any way blackmail in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said the public should note that the state doctors were on Strike prior to the pandemic but were prevailed upon to call off their actions by the State and National NMA.
“At a time when the case management thematic pillars was having difficulties to get volunteers, the Unions came to their rescue by mobilising and fully organizing the first training for HCWs to improve the capacity to take care of COVID-19 patients.”
“Up until Thursday, 21st May, 2020, the unions and associations were opened to negotiations and honored an invitation for a meeting called by the honorable commissioner of health even at very short notice.
“However, issues raised at the meeting were not considered by the government, rather our members were inundated with a circular signed by the Commissioner of health-threatening no work no pay.
“This was followed by a press release with a threat from the government to sack any of our members who participate in the strike action.”
They resolved that it was on the basis of these anomalies that they were embarking on the 7-day warning strike as they earlier notified from 12 noon on Friday 22nd May, 2020.
“We want to thank our members for complying with the directive of the unions and associations in the Kaduna State Health Sector. The general public should take note that we are open to dialogue and should, therefore, prevail on the State government to listen to the voice of reason and do the needful to avert the avoidable crisis in the Health Sector of the State,” they said.
The government had, on Thursday, issued a statement to the workers, daring them to embark on strike and lose their jobs.