By Joan Nwagwu
Abuja, Aug. 7, 2020 The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN), has warned that it would not guarantee industrial harmony if members who were wrongly paid 10 per cent as COVID-19 allowance were not paid the due sum.
Mr Josiah Biobelemoye, National President of MHWUN gave the warning during a courtesy visit to the Chief Medical Director (CMD), University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), Prof. Ekele Bisalla, on Friday in Abuja.
Biobelemoye said that the union had resolved to shut down the health system, if government did not correct the anomaly before payment of the third batch of the COVID-19 allowances.
According to him, the agreement signed with the Ministry of Health on the COVID-19 allowance is that those who earned N5,000 as hazard allowance will be given 50 per cent of their basic salary.
He noted that instead of implementing the agreement, the CMDs of various hospitals were misled to implement only a part of the agreement not meant for them.
“Rather, they misunderstood it to be giving 10 per cent to our members, who they considered as non-medical professionals.
“This was confirmed when we met with the Ministry of Health officials, they agreed that there is an error and asked us to provide the list of those that were wrongly paid 10 per cent.
“We want to make it open to your management so that the circular with the wrong information can be withdrawn and replaced with the corrected one,’’ he said.
Biobelemoye said that the agreement stated that N5,000 hazard allowance had been shelved and, in its place, 50 per cent of basic salary should be approved for all health workers and not health professionals.
He said it was also important for those who were not serving the public, such as the police, military or NNPC clinics, to get 40 per cent, while those working in COVID-19 centres would have extra 20 per cent.
“We feel, when you go for CMDs meeting, you can also brief them, especially for fair-minded CMDs like you to do the correction.
“If they fail to do that before the payment of the third batch we may not guarantee industrial harmony within the system.
“We also want them to know that an hour of disharmony in the health sector at this critical time will cost the country much more than it will use to pay the correct value,” he said.
The union leader appealed that the CONHESS adjustment should be done without delay as its members were running out of patience.
He said that the union had asked that CONHESS be adjusted but it was interpreted as JOHESU asking for equal salary with doctors.
“For instance, if a doctor graduates from the university, the person is placed on level 12, and a non-doctor after graduation is placed on level zero-seven or zero-eight. This will take such person nine years to get to level 12.
“I ask, does that mean that a medical doctor who graduated the same time with non-doctor remains stagnant to wait for the non-doctor to meet on level 12 after nine years,’’ Biobelemoye said.
He called on the Ministry of Health to ensure industrial harmony by ensuring there was no division among the health care workers irrespective of their professions.
Bisalla, commended the leadership of MHWUN for the visit and efforts in ensuring that peace coexisted between the union and management of the hospital.