FGN To Sack 750,000 Striking Health Workers

The Federal government has began moves to dismiss from service about 750,000 striking members of the Joint Health Sector Unions as it has directed Governing Boards of all government owned hospitals to invoke the provisions of Public Service Rule 030413 on the workers for failing to report to duty.

The government has also directed the Governing Boards to restore services in their various hospitals with immediate effect, saying nobody has the right to shut down any government hospital.

The Nation gathered that the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole gave the directive at an emergency meeting with Chief Medical Directors and Medical Directors of all government owned hospitals and their Governing boards.

The public service rule 030413 reads: “Any officer who absents himself/herself from duty or travels out from Nigeria without leave renders himself/herself liable to be dismissed from service and the onus shall rest on him/her to show that the circumstances do not justify the position of the full penalty”.

The public service rule consider the action referred to by the Minister as serious misconduct which can lead to dismissal from service if proven.

Public service rule 030401 said “serious misconduct is a specific act of very serious wrong doing and improper behaviors which is inimical to the image of the public service and which can be investigated and if proven, ma6 lead to dismissal”.

Sources told The Nation that the government may also be working toward proscribing the Joint Health Sector Unions made up of five allied professional unions which constitute about 98 percent of staff of the hospitals.

The Health Minister was said to have told the Governing boards that anyone who fails to resume work should be be considered to have absconded from duty without leave which is a serious misconduct in line with the Public Service rule 030413.

However, Mrs. Boade Akinola, Director, Media and Public Relations in the Ministry of Health, quote the minister as saying that Chief executive not willing to keep the services running should be suspended and be replaced with another officer in acting capacity.

The statement said the Minister’s directive was given at an emergency meeting with the CMDs/MDs of tertiary hospitals, on Monday 28th May, 2018, where the impact of the ongoing strike on health services in government hospitals was reviewed

The Minister added that anyone who fails to resume would be considered to have absconded from duty without leave which is a serious misconduct in line with the Public Service rule 030413.

He noted that Monitoring teams were dispatched to the Tertiary Hospitals to access the activities in various hospitals and reports were presented at the meeting and this revealed that some hospitals were doing well in providing care to the people while others have performed below expectation.

The Minister commended the facilities that are offering full services using locum Staff and volunteers and directed immediate restoration of full services in all the other facilities. He singled out facilities in North East, North West and South- South zones for outstanding performance.

He said that there was no reason why each hospital should not have one ward per speciality open for operation. He said one gynaecology ward, one obstetrics ward, one paediatric ward, one surgical ward and one medical ward, should be kept functioning immediately in facilities that are yet to do so.

He said “the clinics must run, theatre must be opened, there is no reason why they should lock your theatre. No one has the right to lock up government hospitals” the Minister said.

Adewole maintained that everyone who participated in the strike would not be paid for the period of the strike even if the strike is called off.

“We want you to go back and restore services in your various institutions immediately”.

The Minister urged Chairmen of the Boards to take charge of their facilities and that any Chief executive not willing to keep the services running, should be suspended and be replaced with another officer in acting capacity.

Speaking on the strike, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige said he has been restraining the Ministry of Health from engaging advocates staff to fill the vacancies created by the strike, pointing out that he may not be able to restrain them for too long.

Ngige said “they are on essential services and ILO has conditionalities for workers on essential services. They are not supposed to go on strike. ILO also has provision which states that if workers on essential services go on strike, the employer must be protected. They are allowed to deny them payment for the period they are away and employ advocates staff to fill the vacancies. I have pleaded and pleaded.

“They know these laws because they are very vast. We have been begging. These people in JOHESU are Nigerians. If we terminate their appointment and ask new employees to come, you will see over one million applications to fill those vacancies because there are qualified Nigerians outside there.

“But I have restrained the Health Ministry for sometime now. I don’t even know for how long I can restrain them. In doing my restrain, I am guided by the fact that I know that the doctors alone cannot handle the health services. I know that because I am a doctor.

“I also know that the doctors are not conducting themselves in a very dignified way in this negotiation. who should they be putting their mouth and interloping? It is in the Labour laws that they should not interfere in what is happening to another union. This is the situation with JOHESU and the ongoing strike.”

Source The Nation online

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