COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A TWO-DAY MEETING SENIOR STAFF ASSOCIATION OF UNIVERSITIES, TEACHING HOSPITALS, RESEARCH INSTITUTES AND ASSOCIATE INSTITUTIONS (SSAUTHRIAL), TEACHING/SPECIALIST HOSPITALS/FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTRES SECTOR HELD BETWEEN 13TH AND 14TH OCTOBER, 2020 AT THE ALEX EKWUEME FEDERAL UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL, ABAKALIKI, EBONY STATE.
The council at the meeting resolves as follows:
AMENDMENT OF PENSION REFORM ACT 2014
Council received widespread reports of non-payment of retirement benefits to retirees more than one year after disengaging from the service. This development was viewed with much apprehension and we hope that the contributory pension scheme will not go the way of the previous ones. The act of delay in payment of accrued benefits due to retired workers should be criminalized and defaulting Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) sanctioned appropriately. Council welcomes the commencement of the amendment of the pension reform act 2014 and aligns with the proposal for workers to withdraw their accrued pension saving up to 75%. This is a laudable proposal that will allow retired officers to set up businesses of their choice to complement whatever amount the PFAs pay them at the end of the month as pension. Council therefore, calls on the Federal government to correctly calculate and remit accrued benefits under the old scheme prior to 2004, to avoid workers being short-changed.
ADJUSTMENT OF CONHESS SALARY STRUCTURE
Council urges the Federal Ministry of Health as a matter of utmost urgency to begin processes to implement the 30th September 2017 agreement to adjustment of CONHESS Salary Structure as was done to CONMESS, which it promised to implement to the letter within 5 weeks of signing that agreement about 3 years ago.
WITHHELD APRIL AND MAY 2018 SALARIES
Council frowns at the continuous refusal of the government in the payment of withheld salaries of April and May 2018 of JOHESU members. This is in addition to the withheld salaries of our members in JUTH, LUTH and FMC Owerri in April/May 2016 and 2017 in spite of repeated appeals, negotiations and agitations. Council notes with dismay that Unions under the auspices of JOHESU are the only Unions In Nigeria that the "No work no pay" law is applied on and therefore urges the Federal Government to release the withheld salaries without furl her delay in order to guarantee continued industrial harmony in the health sector.
COVID-19 SPECIAL HAZARD/INDUCEMENT ALLOWANCE
Council urges the Federal Ministry of Health to respect the spirit of the MOU signed with the Unions on 21st April 2020 that stipulates that health workers previously earning five thousand naira as hazard allowance be replaced with 50% of their consolidated basic salary as COVID-19 Special Hazard/Inducement allowance. All workers in the health sector are at risk; therefore, there is no basis for discriminatory payment. Consequently, the council demands the payment of the balance of 40% to our members erroneously paid 10%. It is to be noted that at a meeting with JOHESU on 1st July 2020 government admitted that the 10% payment to some health workers was made in error.
NON-PAYMENT OF PROMOTION ARREARS
Council observes with dismay that some institutions still owe their staff promotion arrears from the year 2017 to date. We, therefore, appeal that funds should be made available to clear the backlog of arrears without further delay.
NON-MONETIZATION OF PROMOTION SINCE 2012 TILL DATE AT LAUTECH TEACHING HOSPITAL, OSOGBO
It is disheartening to observe that our members at LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo had been deprived of promotion since 2018, while the monetization of the previously done "nominal" promotion exercises (2012 - 2017) had not been implemented. The council calls on the Osun State Government to readdress these anomalies as a matter of urgent importance.
NON-PAYMENT OF SALARIES/PENSION TO ASIA STATE UNIVERSITY TEACHING HOSPITAL WORKERS/RETIREES
Council received with dismay the report of non-payment of salaries to Abia State University Teaching Hospital workers who are being owed seventeen months' salary arrears from May 2019 to date despite several appeals, agitations, and protest to the state government by various unions. It was also reported that retirees of this institution are being owed pension from December 2014 till date. This is a sad development that should be re-addressed by the Abia State government without further delay. Council, therefore, appeals to the Abia State government to pay the accrued salaries and pensions to mitigate the untold hardship being faced by workers and retirees in the State.
NATIONAL HOUSING FUND (NHF)
Council observes the continuous embarrassment, difficulties, and corrupt practices experienced by the contributors to the scheme in accessing both long and short-term loans from the agency for structural development. Council, therefore, urges the Government to wade into this situation to enable contributors to enjoy the purpose for which the scheme was established.
FORESTALLING INDEFINITE STRIKE ACTION BY JOHESU
Council calls on the Federal government to promptly attend to all demands of JOHESU that culminated in the seven days warning strike in September 2020 to forestall an indefinite strike action by the Unions. This is to avoid deaths and untold hardship to the citizens usually occasioned by such strike action, instead of rushing to the court to stop our agitations. We, therefore, appeal that the government should not allow the fragile industrial harmony In the health sector to degenerate into a full-blown indefinite strike by doing the needful.
STATE OF THE NATION
Council observes with dismay the unprecedented rise in the trend of kidnapping, banditry, and general insecurity in various parts of the country and calls on the government to arrest the degenerating security situation to improve the quality of lives of average Nigerian before it is too late.
Comrade (Rev) E.O. Poppoola
Ag. Sector Chairman
Comrade Ademola Olajire