To avert a looming strike action in the healthcare sector, health workers under the aegis of Senior Staff Association Of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes And Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) Lagos State Council, have called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to urgently implement its agreement with them over their unpaid allowances.
The health workers who staged a peaceful protest at the press conference held at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, on Wednesday, displayed different placards with inscription of their demands such as implementation of new hazard allowance, COVID-19 inducement allowance and CONHESS adjustment.
This is even as resident doctors have issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government over their unimplemented increased hazard allowance. Although it appears peaceful dialogue is ongoing between the government and the doctors, other health workers are yet to be attended to by the government.
In the same vein, Pharmanewsonline garners that nurses and pharmacists are gearing up for their official statement on the development as they are also affected by the unpaid hazard allowance.
Addressing pressmen at the protest, Comrade Olalekan Omoniyi, chairman, SSAUTHRIAI,Lagos State Council, disclosed the association’s displeasure towards Federal Government’s lackadaisical attitude and failure to fulfil the agreement it signed with health workers over payment of various allowances to its members.
He said contrary to government’s agreement with their members to implement an increase in their hazard allowance in 2021 from N5000 to N16000 for CONHESS Junior Staff and N32000 for CONHESS Senior Staff, with effect from December 2021, but till date, there has been no implementation.
According to him: “Agitation for the review of hazard allowance from the paltry sum of N5,000.00 which has been on for some time. The Federal Government took our agitation serious at the height of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. By October 2021, an agreement was reached on the exert sum to paid and as detailed below: CONHESS Junior Staff N16,000.00 naira /CONHESS Senior Staff N32,000.00
“However, a circular was released to that effect though with little difference by the National Salaries Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) in December 2021, that the implementation will take effect from that same month-December 2021.
“Since the release of that circular in December 2021 till now, the Federal Government is yet to implement the new Hazard Allowance. We want to advice the Federal Government to desist from anything that will create industrial unrest”, he stated.
The SSAUTHRIAI Chairman, further listed other unpaid allowances the government need to address including COVID-19 inducement allowance and CONHESS adjustment, saying an agreement was signed with the government in April 2020 for the payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance.
He explained that government agreed to pay health workers in teaching hospitals 50 per cent of their basic salary, while 40 per cent be paid to those in specialist hospitals as Covid-19 inducement allowance, which is yet to be fully paid.
He noted that the allowance payment was expected to cover for three months- April, May and June 2020.
“But when it was time for payment, the government came up with its magic by categorising some of our members as non- essential workers and 10 per cent was paid to them.
“Series of meetings with the Federal Government was held where the Minister of Labour agreed that the 10 per cent was paid in error and agreed to pay the remaining balance of 30 per cent.
“The 30 per cent was paid for just one month and up till now – it is more than a year now, and nothing has been done”, he explained.
On CONHESS adjust, he said a seven man committee was set up in October 2021 to fine-tune the CONHESS adjustment and submit their report within 2weeks, but they haven’t heard anything on it till date.
In a telephone interview with the former Chairman, Committee of Heads of Pharmacy in Federal Health Institutions, COMPHFHI, Pharm. (Dr) Daniel Orumwense, he acknowledged the same thing applies to pharmacists in the hospitals as everyone in the hospital is exposed to one hazard or the other.
He said “ In fact, the resurgence in COVID-19 cases and outbreak of Monkeypox gives credence to the upscaling of hazard allowance and quick implementation of payment”.
Although the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) is yet to join others in the protest, but he expressed optimism that they will soon react to the development.
Also speaking with the Vice-President, National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) Mrs Blessing Isreal, she revealed that nurses are not finding it easy at all with the unpaid hazard allowance, as they are being exposed on a daily basis without commensurate allowance.