There is no end in sight to the ongoing strike embarked upon by health workers in Abia State, following the insistence of the workers to stay out of work, until they see a genuine commitment by the State Government to clear all outstanding arrears of salaries owed them.
Abia health workers under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), on November 4, 2020, embarked on an indefinite strike over nonpayment of 15-months arrears of salaries for workers of Health management board, 18 months salary arrears for workers of Aba General Hospital, including doctors, 3-months salary arrears for Local government health workers, among others.
The workers are also seeking the implementation of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), as approved by the federal government.
Chikezie Echeta, chairman, health workers union, Abia State Health Management Board, in a telephone chat with BusinessDay in Aba, affirmed that the union has not called off the strike.
According to him, “We are demanding for the release of our 15-months arrears of salaries.”
He however stated that they are not insisting on getting the total sum at once, because of the state of the economy, but urged Government to clear some months and commit to clear the remaining, at a stipulated time.
“We know that things are hard. We just came out from the COVID-19 lockdown and it affected the economy badly. But we want Government to pay us at least 6-months arrears and gradually clear the balance.
He insisted that the strike would continue until they get a positive response from the Government.
He noted that a recent meeting convened by Government to dialogue over their grievances did not hold, because the State Governor was not on seat.
The State Government invited the State Union executive on Monday, November 16, 2020, for talks, but unfortunately, the meeting did not hold, because they were informed that the Governor was not on seat.
“They waited from 12.00 noon to 6.00pm and left with anger.
JOHESU commenced an indefinite strike following the expiration of the 15-days ultimatum given to the Abia State Government over unpaid salary arrears and sundry issues.
The group in a communiqué issued after its meeting in Umuahia, on November 4, 2020, and signed by Okoro Ogbonnaya, chairman, and Aligwe Chidi, secretary, JOHESU, Abia State chapter, noted that they were irked by nonpayment of salary to workers of State-owned health institutions.
The JOHESU chairman urged the State Government to fully implement the new national minimum wage for health workers, as well as stop forthwith the slashing of their salaries.
He explained that the last meeting with the State Government ended in a deadlock, which necessitated the strike and appealed to the Government to save the situation.
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