Akwa Ibom Health Workers Resume Duty On Thursday As Government, JOHESU Reach A Truce

By: Israel Umoh

After a two-week strike, health Workers in Akwa Ibom State have agreed to return to their duty posts from Thursday, July 30 as the state government and the union have reached a truce on some of their demands.

The workers under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, had embarked on the strike after the state government failed to meet their demands, among which were, payment of 80% National Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), review of hazard allowance, recall of 722 retrenched local government workers and payment of 50% of their salary compared to their contemporaries in other states.

Last Saturday, Governor Udom Emmanuel had during an interview broadcast in the state radio and television stations announced that he has approved 80% Salary upward review.

But on Tuesday, July 28, the Government and the Organised Labour reached an agreement at Goverment House, Uyo formally indicating government’s readiness to implement the 80% of CONHESS and review of hazard allowance to N4,000 with effect from August 2020.

At the congress of JOHESU on Wednesday, the executive members of the umbrella body decided to call off the strike, and directed their colleagues to resume duty on Thursday, July 30.

In a telephone interview with Straightnews reporter in Uyo on Wednesday, Comrade Patrick Odu, the state Chairman of National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NAANM) confirmed that the workers would resume duty on Thursday.

Odu said the union has decided to suspend negotiation on payment of 50% salary to health workers in the state, pending resumption of duty by the workers.

Recall that at the Tuesday meeting, Mr. Ephraim Inyang-eyen, the Chief of Staff to the Governor reiterated government’s sincere commitment to enhancing the welfare of workers as exemplified in the regular settlement of workers’ financial entitlements, despite the biting economic realities occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inyang-eyen, who led the state government delegation, thanked the Governor for the upward review of the Consolidated Health Salary Structure(CONHESS), as demanded by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) acknowledging that, the development has restored industrial harmony in the health sector.

He, therefore, charged the health workers to reciprocate government’s gesture by improving their health-care service delivery to the people for maximum benefits from the huge goverment Investment in the sector, commending the Labour in the state for sustaining robust engagements on an uninterrupted industrial harmony in the state.

In his remarks, Elder Effiong Essien, the Head of Civil Service, expressed gratitude to the Governor for approving the 80% salary review for health workers in addition to implementing the New Minimum Wage and other welfare packages for workers in the state in the face of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Essien commended Chief of Staff for the catalysing the process, and called on the workers not to relent in the discharge of their assigned tasks towards actualising the second term Completion Agenda of Governor Udom Emmanuel.

The Commissioner for Labour and Manpower Planning, Professor Victor Inoka, thanked the Governor for approving the payment of the 80% CONHESS, and appealed to the labour leaders to always explore more of the dialogue option in resolving industrial issues.

In their separate remarks, Comrade Sunny James, the Chairperson, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC); the Chairman, Trade Union Congress (TUC), Comrade Dominic Abang; the Chairman, Joint Public Service Negotiating Council, Comrade Tina Essien; and the Joint Health Sector Union, JOHESU, counterpart, Comrade AniebietAbasi Obot, applauded Governor Udom Emmanuel’s favourable disposition to workers’ demands, particularly, the approval for the implementation of the 80% review of Health Workers salary.

They assured that with the kind gesture of the Governor, the health workers would be motivated to return to work today, Wednesday, July 29 with renewed vigour.