Despite El-Rufai’s sack threat, health workers go on warning strike

Health Workers in Kaduna State have embarked on a seven-day warning strike despite a warning by the state government that it will view the action of any health worker who fails to show up at their assigned places of work as having forfeited their employment.

The Congress of Health Workers Unions and Associations had within the week issued an ultimatum to the state government to refund the 25 percent salary cuts from their April and May salaries and provide them with Personal Protective Equipment, warning of an impending strike action should the state government fail to meet their demands.

The state government had introduced a policy of 25 percent deduction from the salaries of all civil servants and 50 percent deductions from political office holders to help purchase palliatives for the vulnerable and less privileged affected by the lockdown order due to the Corona virus pandemic.

A statement issued by Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye on Friday said it will not bend to blackmail and instructed that every health worker willing to work is required to sign the register at the Ministry of Health and the health institutions to which they are deployed.

However, following a joint meeting to assess the state government’s response, the union in a communiqué stated that the 7-day warning strike had commenced as at Friday stressing that the action was not intended to blackmail the state government during the Covid-19 pandemic but to press for series of unmated demands.

The communiqué stated that the deduction of 25 percent of salaries from about 11, 000 healthcare workers in the midst of COVID I9 was a violation of section 5 of the Labour Act.

It noted that the state government had paid between 150,000 to 450,000 naira as occupational safety incentives to about 300 selected healthcare workers and non healthcare workers working as staff or volunteers in the Infectious Disease and Control Centre and isolation centre or serving in some of the Covid-19 pillars.

“Less than 2 percent of health workers were paid the incentives while the promised 10% incentives for other HCWS are yet to be paid. Most HCWS  infected with Covid-19 are from health facilities outside the IDCC and isolation centres and none of them have been paid the purported N100,000 daily for 10 days while those working in hospitals have not been contacted to give their details for the widely publicized N5million and the N2 million life and disability insurance respectively,” it clarified.

The communique stated that all health workers are exposed to varying degrees of risk of infectious diseases such as Covid-19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, La0ssa fever, Ebola fever adding that there are no adequate PPEs, as patients buy their own gloves.

It disclosed that even though the state doctors had been on strike before the Covid-19 pandemic, they chose to shelve their strike due to interventions from stakeholders and urged the general public to note that there are open to dialogue and should therefore prevail on the state government to do the needful.

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