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Thursday, August 19, 2010

medical and health workers in Cross River State have made good their threat of an indefinite strike

After observing a three-day warning strike last week, medical and health workers in Cross River State have made good their threat of an indefinite strike as they down tools from today, May 12.

The striking workers said the strike will not be called off until the state government meets their demands of improved pay and better condition of service as enjoyed by their counterparts in other states of the federation.

Early this week, the leadership of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) in the state issued a notice of the industrial action.

The two unions of hospital workers were displeased that instead of the state government addressing the reasons behind their three-day warning strike, which brought activities in all public hospitals and clinics to a standstill, it has chosen to intimidate their leaders.

The unions, in a joint statement signed by the Secretary of NANNM, Amoikwen Godwin, and his counterpart in the MHWUN, Ehis Odeh, accused the government of resorting to punitive postings against four of their key leaders, for spearheading the warning strike.

A letter dated May 4, 2010, and signed on behalf of the Commissioner of Health, Edet Ikpi, by the Director of Administration, Ministry of Health, F. Ingwu, indicated that four key members of the NANNM were transferred to rural areas immediately after the warning strike.

Those who were described by the letter as victims of the strike include the Chairman of the association, Thomas Igbang; Treasurer, Theresa Magong; Auditor, Ekanem Ekpo and Financial Secretary, Oyong Ogar.

Not deterred from action

But the unions had, in a circular, said the action of the government was not going to deter them from embarking on an indefinite strike to actualise their demands.

“Following the insensitivity of the state government to the plight of our members and its resolve to send our leaders on punitive transfers for spearheading the warning strike and its hatched plan to cause crisis in Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, we are directed to inform you that if by noon, Wednesday 12th May, the government has not met our demands, all our members should embark on an indefinite strike till our demands are met,” the circular said.

The leaders insisted that the unions will not abandon their genuine demands which, he said, include an implementation of a new salary structure for workers; employment of more health workers in hospitals and health centres, and payment of a new uniform allowance to workers.

It said the leadership of the unions was disappointed at the way Mr Ikpi had handled the issue of the workers’ welfare, adding that the warning strike was aimed at compelling the government to begin fruitful negotiations with the workers. They alleged that the commissioner had rebuffed all attempts of the health unions to meet with him and renew negotiations.

Mr Ikpi, however, denied claims by the health workers that the recent transfer of their key leaders was punitive.

The three-day warning strike by the workers had seriously affected health care delivery in the state as all state-owned hospitals were deserted.

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