By Michael Oche, Abuja
The nation’s health and medical facilities across the country will be shut down any moment from now as a result of federal government failure to implement collective bargaining agreement reached with medical workers over adjustment in salaries, privatization and Public Private Partnership policies of the government.
President of Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), Comrade Biobelemoye Joy Josiah made this known yesterday when he played host to the president of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Ayuba Wabba.
Comrade Josiah, who lamented the challenges being faced by the health workers and their plan to confront the struggle, said the crisis will “lead to a complete shut down of the health system.”
He saif, “2014 you fought the battle for salary adjustment they have adjusted for the medical doctors but the Memorandum of Understanding you signed with them, they were almost denying them. The Federal Ministry of Health almost denied that such did not take place until, we were able to provide the document. But as we speak now , they have not adjusted the salary for us and it has caused serious ripples within the health system and sooner or later it might lead to a complete shut down of the health system because when JOHESU meets we are going to take far reaching decision in that respect.
“I am bringing that up with you for your intervention. Not because we are afraid to go to the battle field but because we have serious concern for the Nigerian citizens. When we shut down, who suffers, it is the Nigerian citizen. It is not those managers of the Federal Ministry of health that have refused to do what is right at the right time.
“Another threat to the health sector and the workforce in general is the use of no work no pay by the Federal Ministry of Health. After entering into agreements, and after reneging on these agreements, the ministry, when we now say o Kay, if you don’t want to listen to us it is our right to also withdraw our services what the ministry will do is that they will wait for us to withdraw our services they will now say they are invoking no-work-no-pay.
Recently, we carried it a survey and our people have also mandated us that whether no-work-no-pay, or not, that it is time we shut down the system.That brings us to the issue of concern for Nigerian citizens.
“Another area where the Nigerian poor populace will be denied health services, is on the issue of privatization, Public Private Partnership (PPP) or concession. Nigerians should not in anyway accept such items. As exemplifies, the Garki Hospital, where PPP is operational today that hospital is out of reach of the poor masses. Card alone was N4,000 and recently increased to N5,000; and we asked, the N18,000 salary earner, taking out N5,000 to take a card, what will he use for drugs and for feeding his family, when N18,000 is not even enough.
We still believe that public health institution are established for public good and to serve as socio service point for the commoners. So we are standing here to say, no, to privatization of public health institutions.
It is international position of PSI that health is not for sale.
I want to say clearly that these issues, if not nip in the bud, especially the issue of no-work-no-pay is not nip in the bud, where the employer after reaching agreement through collective bargaining, will renege and violate all the agreement and turn to intimidate workers throughout Nigeria simply means they are taking away from us the right to protest. That simply means reintroduction of slave Labour. That we are slaves and we cannot and should not complain.
So we want to call on the highest Labour body in the country, to say that is not the right way for them to operate; so help us free Nigeria from that problem so that Nigerians will have right to protest and say no to bad government policies and bad governance.