Kaduna state health workers on Saturday embarked on seven-day warning strike to protest the deduction of 25% from their April and May salaries, despite threats by Governor Nasir el-Rufai to sack any health worker that fails to report at their duty post.
A communique issued at the end of a joint meeting of 14 Kaduna state healthcare workers unions and associations stated that their action was not a blackmail but to fight for their rights.
They noted that doctors in the state were already on strike but they were prevailed upon in the advent of Covid-19 by the state and national associations to step it down.
The communique was jointly signed by 14 health workers unions and associations including Chairman Medical and Dental Council Association of Nigeria Barau Dikko Teaching Hospital, Dr Danjuma Sale; President Association of Resident Doctors in Kaduna, Dr Emmanuel Joseph; Chairman, National Association of Pharmaceutical Technologists and Pharmacy Technology of Nigeria, Mr Ibrahim Abashe; and Chairman Nigerian Medical Association, Kaduna, Dr Stephen Akau Kache.
According to the communique, they have to embarked on the strike because “Kaduna state government deducted 25% of the salaries from about 11,000 of her healthcare workers in the midst of Covid 19 (April and May). This action was done in violation of section 5 of the Labour Act.
“Kaduna state government paid between N150,000 to N450,000 as occupational safety incentives to about 300 selected HCWs and non HCWs working as staff or volunteer in the IDcC and isolation centre or serving in some of the Covid-19 pillars.
Less than 2% of the HCWs in the state benefited from the packages. The promised 10% incentives for other HCWs though inadequate is yet to be paid.
“Most HCWs that were infected with Covid 19 are from health facilities outside theIDCC and isolation centres and none of them have been paid the purported #100,000daily for 10 days. None of our members working in hospitals have been contacted to give their details for the widely publicized #5million and the #2million life and disability insurance respectively.
“All health workers are exposed to varying degrees of risk of infectious diseases such asCovid-19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDs, Lassa fever, Ebola fever among others. There are no adequate PPEs in the state hospitals as evidenced by patients buying their own gloves, HCWs getting their own personal facemask and eye goggles among other basic PPEs.”
Speaking on why they took such drastic decision in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, the health workers said, “our action is not in any way a blackmail in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a time when the Case Management thematic pillars was having difficulties to get volunteers the Unions came to their rescue by mobilizing and fully organising the first training for HCWs to improve the capacity to take care of Covid-19 patients.”
They said they were opened to negotiations and even attended a meeting at the instance of the health commissioner despite the short notice but, “issues raised at the meeting were not considered by the government, rather our members were inundated with a circular signed by the Commissioner of health threatening no work no pay.
This was followed by a press release with a threat from government to sack any of our members who participates in the strike action.
“On the basis of the above, we wish to state that the 7- days warning strike has commenced as we earlier notified from 12 noon today Friday 22nd MAY, 2020. The general public should take note that we are open to dialogue and should therefore prevail on the state government to listen to the voice of reason and do the needful to avert the avoidable crisis in the health sector of the state,” the health workers said.