AN OPEN LETTER TO PROFESSOR ISAAC ADEWOLE, HON. MINISTER OF HEALTH ADEWOLE BY THE SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITIES, TEACHING HOSPITALS, RESEARCH INSTITUTES AND ASSOCIATED INSTITUTIONS (SSAUTHRIAI)
I am constrained to forward this letter to you on the current industrial crisis (instigated by your Ministry) by the five registered and recognized trade unions and the assembly of health care professionals operating under the aegis of JOHESU
Before going to the details of this letter and as a Yoruba man, your are indeed familiar with a Yoruba proverb that says; ‘A king whose reign is peaceful and a king whose reign is tumultuous none shall be forgotten’ and let me also add this ‘we are all birds of passage and whatever we do today becomes history tomorrow, indeed, witty-nitty posterity will judge’
Sir, you know as of fact that prior to the memorandum of terms of settlement reached at the end of the conciliation ‘meetings held on 30th September 2017, there have been unfulfilled agreements and court judgements not implemented or respected by the ministry since 2008 and which are still unresolved issues that led to the current industrial crisis
In the 30th of September 2017 meeting the government side promised five weeks for the implementation of the agreement particularly the issue of upward adjustment of CONHESS Salary scale
Perhaps, it is necessary to inform you that prior to 2012, the JOHESU had been agitating for the resolution of
After several unsuccessful conciliation meetings, the then Minister of labour and productivity referred these matters to the National industrial court on june 17, 2012. The NICN delivered its judgement on july 22 2013
Because of the agistation of JOHESU on the four issues, the Nigerian Medical Association having the support of the then minister of health, professor onyebuchi chukwu addressed a world press conference. The details of it was published in the Guardian of Thursday 27th September 2012
Among others, the NMA said the demand for skipping of CONHESS 10 was illegal and if it was granted, Government would have to elongate the consolidated medical salary structure for Medical/ Dental practitioners in addition to reintroducing the medial salary super scale (MSSS) Salary structure for Doctors
This according to the NMA is the only way the NMA can accept any immoral skipping of salary grade level by the Allied Health Professionals
Aside that, the NMA also advocated for the privatization of laboratory services, pharmacy, radiography, physiotherapy, catering and laundry a public private partnership PPP arrangement in such a manner that manpower training is not impeded. This was done when the matter was before the court
It is therefore a surprise to see that Doctors who have asserted publicly that skipping of CONHESS 10 is illegal and immoral have had CONMESS adjusted, paid arrears when there was no budgetary provision for it whereas, other health professionals who agitated for it and denied by the Health Ministry and won the agitation through the process of law court are still being denied because they do not have godfather like you
I ponder to ask, is it fair, just and not provocative? Should we expect JOHESU members to keep mute and not to be offended?
The inability of your ministry to meet the five weeks promised for the resoulution of the critical issue of adjustment of CONHESS that extended to six months and without any courtesy from your ministry to inform JOHESU of reasons for not meting the five weeks, culminated the ultimatums issued on 5th February 2018 (21 days), 5th March 2018 (30 days) before the strike commenced on Tuesday, 17th april 2018 making a total os sixty five 65 days notice
The circular of 18th April 2018 is very provocative and not the best way to approach the matter. The circular was intended to blackmail the leadership of JOHESU as if they encourage vandalism if any during strike
If an employer can not resolve a single matter conclusively in about nine months and forced its workers to go on strike and thereafter shamefully issued ‘No Work No Pay’ circular, then something must be totally wrong
The Employers of Labour particulary, Ministries and Parastatals believe that they are not affected by the law of the land and that may be the reason why the ministry is acting in this manner
Before the circular and the press release were issued on the 18th April 2018 and 30th April 2018, respectively, I say with utmost respet that the ministry of Health must have been in a confused state of mind, otherwise, issuance of that circular barely twenty four hours of the commencement of the strike by JOHESU should not be the option
Sir I don’t know who might have advised you to do that when for a period of about nine months your ministry could not resolve a single matter by happy to direct enforcement of No Work No Pay. Inded it is an act of tyranny
The circular of 18th April 2018 signed for you said that trade disputes Act Cap T8 laws of federation of Nigeria 2004 is Cap T18 of 2014, it is not so. Similarly, ILO is international labour organization and not international Law Organisation
As far as JOHESU is concerned, no law of the land has been violated because Convention NO 65 of 1939 that gives birth to obnoxious section 43 of the trade disputes act T8 laws of the federation of Nigeria has been abrogated by convention No 104 of 1955
For ease of reference, ILO convention No 65 titled ‘convention concerning penal sanctions for breaches of contracts of employment by indigenous workers says;
1. All penal sanctions for any breach of contract to which this Convention applies shall be abolished progressively and as soon as possible. But Convention No 104 of 1955 captioned "Convention concerning the Abolition of Penal Sanctions for Breaches of Contracts of Employment by Indigenous Workers' that replaced this Convention says:-
Let me also say that Section 43 cannot be read in isolation of Section 41 that says, "Fifteen days' notice to be given by workers Inessential services before ceasing work'. Is this notice put in the Law for cosmetic purposes or means that the Employers and Workers should resolve issues in dispute within the period of fifteen days? Whereas JOHESU gave a total of sixty-five (65) days before the strike commenced on 17" April, 2018. In the First schedule to the Trade Unions Act Cap T14, item 14. Matters to be provided for in rules of trade unions, says; ' A provision that no member of the union shall take part in a strike unless a majority of the members have In a secret ballot voted In favour of the strike"! n this not a tacit approval for workers to go on strike?.
Also Section 6 (b-e) of Trade Unions (Amendment)Act. 2005, echoes same. (6) "No person, trade union or employer shall take part in a strike or lock out or engage in any conduct in contemplation or furtherance or a strike or lockout unless:
(b) the strike or lock out concerns a labour dispute that constitutes a dispute of right
c. the strike or lock out concerns a dispute arising from a collective and fundamental breach of contract of employment or collective agreement on the part of the employee; trade union or employer
d. the provisions for arbitration in the trade disputes Act Cap 432, laws of the federation of Nigeria 1990 have first been complied with; and
e. in the case of an employee or a trade union, a ballot has been conducted in accordance with the rules and constitution of the trade union at which a simple majority of all registered members voted to go on strike
I assert unequivocally that JOHESU strike is a dispute of right and not dispute of interest and for the understanding of it, "Disputes of Right" means any labour dispute arising from the negotiation, application, interpretation or Implementation of a contract of employment or collective agreement under this Act or any other enactment or law governing matters relating to terms and conditions of employment Our distinguished Minister of Health, are we the one that enacted the laws quoted above and is the enforcement of No Work No Pay justifiable? We pause for an answer?
On the 30" of April. 2018. The Nation Newspaper on page 46 published the Press Release by the Ministry of Health on the nationwide industrial action of JOHESU.
The Press Release according to the Ministry is "to correct the misinformation being fed to the public by JOHESU and also to Inform the general public of efforts being made by the Federal Government in order to avoid incessant strike in the health sector but reading through it, it is very clear that there are apparent contradictions and misplacement of facts that exposed what is being hidden.
For instance, "the Hon. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole wishes to reiterate that there was NO AGREEMENT between the Federal Government and JOHESU prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari"
We say authoritatively that the Hon. Minister of Health Professor Isaac Adewole is being economical with the truth. It is human beings that lie, Documents will never lie.
Below are the agreements between the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) prior to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhan' (i) 10th May, 2012: Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting held with Representatives of the Joint Health Sector Unions and Representatives of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission, and the Federal Ministry of Health at the Instance of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity at the Honourable Minister's Conference Room".
- Dalhatti Sule mni. Director Human Resources. Ministry of Health
- Faniran, F.O. President, NUPMTPAM
- Yusuf-Badmus, W.G. Dep. General. Secretary, NANNM
- Ukut.S.U.NSI&WC (Claimed to be an observer)
- Adeyemi Kehinde, OHCSF Dt
- Akintola. B.A. Ag. President SSAUTHRIAl
- Barr. Tony Oghagbon, Deputy Secretary General. MHWUN
(ii) 21"March. 2013: 'Memorandum of Understanding Reached at a Meeting held at the Instance of the Honourable Minister of Labour & Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, CON, between the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission at the Conference Room of the Honourable Minister of Labour & Productivity, Abuja
Signatories - Faniran. F.O.. Acting Chairman, JOHESU - Yusuf-Badmus, w.c. Secretary, JOHESU - Fatima B.A. Bamidele (Mrs) Permanent Secretary, FMOH - Dr. O.C. Idoh. Permanent Secretary. FMOL&P.
(Iii) August 26th 27th 2013: "Agreement reached at the Meeting held at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, CON and the Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchl Chukwu, the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Alhall GONI AJI, OON the President of the Trade Union Congress, Mr. Bobboi Bala Kaigama, the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Abdulwahed 1. Omar and the Leadership of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) held at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Abuja"
Signatories - Ayuba Wabba, mit President. MHWUN Abdrafiu A. Adeniji, President. NANNM - M.O. Akinade, General Secretary, SSAUTHRIAI - F.O. Faniran, President, NUAHP - Peters A. AdeyemI, General Secretary, NASU - Dr. GC. Okara, Chairman, AHPA - Alhaji Bukar Goni Aji, OON HCSF - Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu. Honourable Minister of Health Dr O.C. Illoh. Permanent Secretary, FMOL&P
(Iv) 7th & 8th Jan.2014: 'Memorandum of Understanding Reached at the end of the meeting held between the Federal Ministry of Health and the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) held at the conference room of the federal ministry of health, 6th floor, Federal secretariat of phase 111 Abuja
Signatories – Ayuba Wabba mni, President MHWUN
The Honourable Minister said that "the Federal Government has implemented 14 out of 15 points demand presented by JOHESU on 30" September, 2017, while the last demand is still been attended to by the High Level Body set up by the Government to look into its Implementation". Why has the Minister not stated what they have implemented?
The Minister has continued to hammer that what JOHESU is asking for is PARITY but what is bad in that when justification for it has been presented and proved. In January 2014. CONMESS was adjusted in this order: 1 and 2 - 20%. 3 and 4 - 30%. 5, 6 and 7 - 40%.
In January 2018, CONMESS 1 was again adjusted by 20% while Doctors after one year training move to CONMESS 2 and after another one year, they move to CONMESS 4 and skipped CONMESS 3. Is it a sin for other health professionals to ask for adjustment of CONHESS?
All over the world, job evaluation is the determination of the relevant of one job in relation to another base on certain factors like Education, Training, Experience, Responsibility for Contacts and Communication, use of Materials or Equipment, Control of Materials and Equipment, Supervision of proper job performance by others, Organizing ability, Physical handling of materials, Mental application, Working conditions and Hazards. Are the Doctors saying that if these factors are rated, they will earn more salary than other health professionals?
In 2008, there was job evaluation in the Health Sector but may be because Physiotherapists and Medical Laboratory Scientists were rated higher in that exercise, that may be the reason why the report of job evaluation has not seen the light of the day despite repeated agitations by JOHESU.
It is unfortunate that when Medical Doctors are appointed Minister of Health that we have crises in the Sector and we can make comparison to prove this between the tenure of Pharmacist (Chief) Adelusi, Prot Eyltayo Lembo and Prof. Onyebuchl Chukwu and Prof. Isaac Adewole. While Prof. Onyebuchl Chukwu administered the Ministry of Health as an Emperor, you are administering the Ministry as a silent burner both aimed at putting other Health Professionals in perpetual bondage and slavery. At this juncture, I need to commend the Hon. Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. (Dr) Chris Ngige for his courage despite the fact that he is a Medical Doctor, he was able to caution the new brand of NMA leadership against their trade union rascality but disappointingly, the Hon. Minister of Health maintained silence when these acts are being exhibited by NMA. Without mincing words, the unwarranted call on the government not to grant salary adjustment to other Health Professionals by the new brand of NMA leadership is uncalled for, wicked and inhuman
Sir, your rigidity and partisan position that has shown that you are opposed to anything good for other health professionals other than the medical doctors has been a tonic for a clarion call by JOHESU to president Muhammadu Buhari to relieve you of your office and unless you adopt a change of attitude, the agitation will continue unabated. The current development has also strengthened JOHESU to reiterate its call for the restructuring of the Ministry of Health and other unresolved grievances and if the Government feels that enforcement of No work No Pay by unjustly punishing members of JOHESU will be the solution, we wish the government and the Ministry of Health good luck but we must realize that we are all birds of passage and Almighty God is watching and sees everybody
It is unfortunate that Medical Doctors give the Impression to the Public that they are the only Health Professionals that attended University and trained while other health professionals went to secondary school and have no training to qualify them as Health professionals. This downright arrogance has gone into their heads to overrate themselves because; they have been over pampered by their god-fathers in the Ministry of Health
It is my hope that you will find time to read this letter and ruminate on it in the interest of peace in the Health sector
M.O Akihade General Secretary
CC: Chairman JOHESU