The Minister of labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has urged the striking members of the Joint Health Sector Union to obey the order of the National Industrial Court directing the five Health unions, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwifes, Non Academic Staff Union, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professional, Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospital Research Institutes and Associated Institutions operating under the acronym to call off strike within 24 hours and return to negotiation.
The Minister, who made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja, said information from field officers of the Ministry of Labour and Employment indicate that the unions were yet to comply with the court order.
Ngige said: “Information from our various field officers indicate that JOHESU is yet to obey the order of the National Industrial Court, which directed it to call off strike within 24 hours and return to negotiation with effect from 17th May, 2018.
“It is important to remind all of us that Nigeria is a constitutional democracy with all rights and freedom fully protected under the rule of law.
“Therefore, disobedience to court orders is an anarchic resort to self-help, which will neither benefit the unions nor the nation at large.
“Orders of court, no matter how adverse, must be obeyed until set aside.
“I hereby appeal to the leaders and members of JOHESU to comply with this order and direct their members nationwide to return to duties immediately.
“This is in view of the imperative of the rule of law as well as give and take upon which every fruitful social dialogue is anchored.”
The Minister further noted that a high level Federal Government body has been meeting on daily basis since the commencement of the strike to find an amicable resolution of the contending issues, majorly, the review of the CONHESS Salary level for the five unions.
Ngige added: “I therefore wish to inform the leadership of JOHESU that their primary employers, the Federal Ministry of Health, other members of the Federal Government Negotiating Team and my Ministry as the Chief Conciliator are ready for the prompt resumption of negotiations as well as speedy resolution of this trade dispute.”
The Minister recalled that he signified his intention to refer the matter to the National Industrial Court during the May 16, 2018 negotiation, but was prevailed against, not knowing that other concerned Nigerians had already gone to court before the Ministry could send its referral instrument to that court.
The Minster also Informed that Government was still open to negotiation, as such JOHESU should avail itself of this window and not push government to take decisions that will erode all her gains in making workers happy since the coming in of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.