HEALTH workers across Ekiti State have embarked on a three-day strike after a series of ultimatums issued to the government of Governor Kayode Fayemi were ignored leading the unions to conclude that their sacrifices were being taken for granted.
Five days ago, doctors in the service of the Ekiti State government embarked on an indefinite strike over terms and conditions and the failure of the state government to address their concerns over Covid-19. Today, they were joined by other healthcare workers across the state, who have formed the umbrella body, the Joint Associations and Unions of Ekiti State Healthcare Workers.
Union in the body include the state chapters of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria and the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals which represents pharmacists. In a letter dated July 3, and addressed to Governor Fayemi, the unions notified the government of the commencement of the industrial action and why the decision became inevitable.
Union spokesman Femi Ajoloko, accused the government of subjecting the healthcare workers to untold hardship, saying their sacrifices for the state have been taken for granted. He added that for the past 10 years, healthcare workers in the state have not been receiving statutory hazard allowance and other allowances including those for uniforms and skipping, among others.
Mr Ajoloko said: “We have arrears of unpaid salaries and the government has consistently been making deductions from our salaries without remitting the same to appropriate purses such as cooperative societies. We had been managing and enduring these challenges but even at this critical time, the state has refused to consider us by paying the covid-19 special hazard allowance.
“After a series of letters, when we met with government representatives on Monday, we were told the state does not have money. But the same government that is claiming that there is no money has been busy announcing political appointments as if the appointees will work for free.”
He added that his members were distraught by the development and felt they were being taken for granted. Mr Ajoloko said today’s meeting was attended by the head of service, senior special assistant on labour matters, commissioner for finance and the permanent secretary in the ministry of health, among others.
“They now seem to have shifted focus on the isolation centres forgetting the fact that those of us at the primary healthcare facilities and general hospitals are more exposed to hazards. Having exhausted all the necessary means and procedures to avert this impending strike to no avail, the leadership of above named associations and unions, therefore, painstakingly resolved and declared a three-day warning strike with effect from 12midnight on Monday, July 6, 2020, to press home our demands,” Mr Ajoloko added.
Ekiti State medical doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners, covering more than 100 primary healthcare centres, 19 general hospitals and three specialist hospitals, commenced an indefinite strike last Wednesday. They accused the government of subjecting them to what they described as unnecessary hardships through a shortage of manpower, poor pay and arrears of unpaid allowances.