by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna
Healthcare Workers Unions and Associations have embarked on seven days’ warning strike over 25 percent salary deductions, despite the state government’s threat that any absentee from work be considered relived of their jobs.
The decision was taken at the end of a joint meeting attended by 14 leaders of Healthcare Workers Union in Kaduna State where they resolved to embark on a seven-day warning strike.
In a communiqué issued and signed by leaders of all the 14 Healthcare Workers Unions and Associations in Kaduna and made available to the media, weekend, stated that, “The 7 days’ warning strike has commenced, as we earlier notified, from 12 noon on Friday, 22nd MAY, 2020.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that our action is not in any way a blackmail in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Up till 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 a very short notice,” it stated.
The communiqué, however, noted that 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 government to sack any of our members, who participates in the strike action.
“On the basis of the above, we wish to state that the 7 days’ warning strike has commenced as we earlier notified, from 12 noon of Friday, 22nd May, 2020.”
Earlier, the communiqué stated that “The meeting was called to assess the response of the Kaduna state government to our earlier communication and notice of a 7 days’ warning strike to press home our demands.
“We observed that the Kaduna state government deducted 25% of the salaries from about 11000 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 IDcC 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. The promised 10% incentives for other HCWs, though inadequate, are yet to be paid. Most HCWs that were infected with Covid-19 are from health facilities outside the IDCC and isolation centres and none of them have been paid the purported #100,000 daily for 10 days.
“None of our members working in hospitals have been contacted to give their details for the widely publicized #5million and the #2 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 face-masks and eye goggles, among other basic PPEs.
“We want to make it abundantly clear that our action is not in any way a blackmail in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. The public should take note of the following:
*The state doctors were on strike prior to the pandemic but were prevailed upon to call off their actions by the state and National NMA2.
*At a time when the Case Management thematic pillars was having difficulties to get volunteers, the Unions came to their rescue by mobilizing and fully organizing the first training for HCWs to improve the capacity to take care of Covid-19 patients.
*3. 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 a 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 government to sack any of our members, who participates in the strike action. On the basis of the above, we wish to state that the 7 days’ warning strike has commenced, as we earlier notified, from 12 noon today, 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,” it stated.