The Federal Government has announced that it will continue negotiations with the Nigerian Medical Association over proposals on the new hazard allowance for doctors and healthcare workers in the public sector.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige stated this at a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Salaries with the NMA on the review of the hazard allowance in public health, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.
Ngige stated that discussions had already begun with all the health workers since March, but disagreements with the NMA emerged over fundamental principles of negotiation with the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).
He added that the NMA called for Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), and urged bith the MA and JOHESU to resume and conclude negotiations with the FG.
“If we do so, it is to your own advantage because it has to be captured in the 2022 budget. Government will also look at its purse and if there is money, the President will sign and it will be a win-win situation for all of us,” he said.
“Last week, we discussed with JOHESU. We had a fruitful discussion. It is in that spirit that I am asking you that this should be fruitful, so that we can rest the issue of paying N5,000 hazard allowance.
”In 2020, it was not you who informed government. It was by our own volition that we invited both sides to the meeting where we handed over special COVID allowances to medical, dental workers and other allied health workers and we did it seamlessly.
‘I don’t know whether it was because of the fear of COVID that you worked together. Today, the divide is there. Having read the altercation between you and JOHESU, which is in the media, we can’t believe that both of you are managing one patient.
The Minister appealed to the labour unions to unite and see how the FG navigates the issues. “Stop this dichotomy between you and JOHESU. Both of you are managing one patient. It is team work. Nobody can do it alone,” he said.
On the strike by resident doctors, Ngige said the Federal Government had been religiously implementing its own part of the Memorandum of understanding (MOU) it signed with the NMA, but claims doctors have chosen to make the government the whipping dog.
He said, “I used my powers as conciliator to say that there is a court judgment and that the government must obey. Court judgments are not what you pick and choose. No matter how bad a court judgment, affected persons must obey.
”That is whether you are government or private sector. A court has ordered that these people should be placed back on CONMESS, pending when it concludes this suit.
“Again, we have a presidential committee on salaries and wages. We have put every wage on hold. There is a circular to that effect.
”So, we would have had a look at it before the amputation of people’s income in the emergency.”
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Recall Nairametrics reported last week that the Federal Government announced that it had reached a truce deal with the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) over demands.
Ngige said FG and JOHESU discussed in a fraternal way and reached an understanding on all the issues in dispute, including the enhancement of hazard allowance, review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, the arrears of the consequential adjustment of the national minimum wage and upward adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) as done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).