CDWR SUPPORTS 7-DAY WARNING STRIKE OF HEALTH WORKERS IN KADUNA STATE
CONDEMNS THE THREAT TO HEALTH WORKERS BY MALLAM EL-RUFAI-LED KADUNA STATE GOVERNMENT
Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) supports the joint warning strike of health workers unions and associations in Kaduna state to demand improved working conditions. We commend this united strike and urge that the unions and associations involved not to relent until all demands are met. Should the 7-day expire without any serious and concrete effort by the state government to meet the demands, it should be escalated to a full-blown strike with the active solidarity and support of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and the United Labour Congress (ULC). This is important to teach the rabidly anti-worker government of Kaduna state led by Mallam El-Rufai a lesson.
In the same vein, we condemn the threat of the Kaduna State Governor Mallam El-Rufai to the striking health workers. Instead of issuing threats, the State government should immediately meet the workers’ demands in order to prevent a situation where frontline health workers would be forced to withdraw their services in the midst of a pandemic. We also demand that no health worker should be victimised for participating in the strike.
Some of the issues necessitating this warning strike include: (1) deduction of 25% of the salaries of about 11,000 Kaduna State healthcare workers in violation of section 5 of the Labour Act, (2) less than 2% of the State health care workers benefitted from the about N150, 000 to N450, 000 Occupational Safety incentives Kaduna state government purportedly paid to workers and other staff in the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, (3) Non-payment of promised 10% incentives for Health Care Workers, (4) Lack of adequate PPE thus putting health care workers at risk of varying degrees of infectious diseases including COVID-19, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, Lassa fever, Ebola fever etc., (5) Due to lack of PPE, patients in Kaduna state have to buy their own gloves while healthcare workers have to buy their own personal facemask and eye goggles among others, (6) No health insurance for health care workers in Kaduna State despite the government recently publicising an N5 million and N2 million life and disability insurance.
We recall that in October 2017, El-Rufai-led government and the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) Kaduna branch had mutually agreed to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) of salary adjustment and other things at a meeting brokered by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) with a timeline of implementation. While the Association of Resident Doctors had kept to its own side of the bargain, Mallam El-Rufai-led government is yet to implement its own side of the bargain despite reminder and lobbying by resident doctors. The action of the Kaduna State government is insensitive to the plight of the doctors and also to the plight of the people of the state, who are also battling with a COVID 19 pandemic.
If we recall that on November 25, 2019 the Association of Resident Doctors agreed to give government of Kaduna state 3 months to implement the agreement but the government of Mallam El-Rufai also failed to implement its own side of the bargain but the government asked for an extension on February 27, 2020, to March 3, 2020, which was agreed to by the Resident Doctors. After the expiration of this date, the Resident Doctors agreed to embark on strike action on March 10, 2020, but decided to suspend the strike action. This only implies that the Kaduna State Government does not care about the welfare of workers. We commend the doctors and other striking health care workers for their steadfastness.
The Kaduna State Government should be blamed for the strike action considering the fact that the healthcare workers have exercised enough patience and have tolerated the insensitivity and insincerity of the government for too long.
It is our opinion that the strike should go beyond a sit at home action, but should also involve other public activities like press conferences and leafletting in order to mobilise public support for the strike. The Labour Centres (ULC, NLC, and TUC), must also unite and take the demands of the health sector seriously to campaign for a general strike for the revamping of the health sector and provision of a free, public-funded and democratically-managed health care as a strategy going forward
We therefore demand:
1. The government of Kaduna state led by Mallam El-Rufai should meet the demands of doctors and all health workers in the state in order to avert a full-blown strike.
2. The government of Kaduna state led by Mallam El-Rufai should also withdraw the threat to the doctors and health workers in Kaduna state.
3. No doctor and healthcare workers should be victimised for participating in the warning strike. The government must respect democratic rights.
4. Payment of adequate monthly hazard allowance of nothing less than N100, 000, adequate PPE and full life insurance cover to all doctors and health care workers in Kaduna state.
5. Stoppage of the deduction of 25% from the salary of the state workers in the name of providing palliatives for the citizens of Kaduna state.
6. Provision of adequate food palliative and N50, 000 special allowance to workers and the poor in Kaduna state.
7. Provision of free, public-funded and democratically managed health care.
Comrade Rufus Olusesan