Wednesday, 4 October 2017

NLC, Doctors Commence Strike In Benue

The Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, in Benue on Tuesday embarked on indefinite strike over non-payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities.

The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reports that the union commenced the strike following the collapse of negotiations between labour and the state government.

A correspondent of NAN who monitored the strike in Makurdi reports that all government offices were under lock and key in compliance with the NLC directive.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday in Makurdi, Benue NLC chairman, Godwin Anya, said the organised labour in the state was satisfied with the level of compliance with the action.

Mr. Anya said that the state government had failed to address the workers’ grievances, especially the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuity, adding that the strike would continue until their demands were met.

He said that labour was not aware of an offer of two months salary from the state government, adding that such an offer would be rejected.

“They should start from five months, then, we can begin negotiations.

“What we have ever received since the declaration of state of emergency on salaries is screening exercise, nothing short of that,” he said.

Mr. Anya also said that the NLC in the state was not involved in the disbursement of funds to workers.

Governor Samuel Ortom had said on several occasions that his administration operated transparent fiscal system where all revenues accruing to the state were openly disbursed with participation of the organised labour.

Also, the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Benue chapter, has issued a seven-day warning strike beginning from midnight of October 3, to protest government’s failure to pay their outstanding salary arrears.

This is contained in a statement jointly signed by association’s Chairman and Secretary, Obekpa Obekpa and Nwaeze Chukwuemeka, respectively.

The statement, issued on Tuesday in Makurdi, indicated that the strike would exclude private hospitals.

The union leaders said the commencement of the warning strike became necessary following the breakdown of negotiations with the management of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) after the expiration of a 21-day ultimatum.

The association, therefore, directed all government health institutions in the state to comply with the warning strike, excluding private hospitals and faith-based hospitals in the first stage of the strike.

“NMA Benue branch hereby directs all medical and dental practitioners working with the FMC, Makurdi, Benue State Teaching Hospital (BSUTH).

“Hospital Management Board (HMB), Benue Ministry of Health (BSMOH) and College of Health Sciences of the Benue State University (CHS-BSU) to proceed on strike as directed by the congress,” the statement read in part.

The congress further commended its members for their patience, despite the protracted unfavourable working conditions and serial breach of collective agreements by the Benue Government and management of FMC, Makurdi.

NAN recalls that NMA in its earlier ultimatum decried the acute shortage of doctors in Benue hospitals, and said that the state had less than 50 medical doctors in its service.

NAN reports that a bond, signed by the state government in 2009, compels all graduating medical doctors of Benue origin to work for the state government upon graduation.

The communique also accused government of “serially failing to honour agreements after collective bargains”, and declared that the doctors were running out of patience.

The association further alleged that health institutions were not properly funded, and lamented that basic medical consumables were lacking in most hospitals.
It called for more refresher courses for doctors to boost service delivery.

The Benue government and management of FMC Makurdi are yet to react to the ultimatum.


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