Health workers under the auspices of the Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU/the Assembly of Healthcare Professionals Associations, AHPA, have alleged short-changed in the payment of the agreed Hazard Allowance to their members, calling on the Federal Government to immediately remedy the lapses.
Meanwhile, JOHESU has commended the Federal Government for the timely intervention of releasing the circular for the payment of the hazard allowance for health workers even as it faulted the circular for containing what it described "as a restrictive clause" which excluded certain categories of health workers from being paid the hazard allowance.
Disclosing these in a press statement signed by the Acting National Secretary, Com. Matthew Ajurotu, the Unions hinged their position on the fact that nothing has changed in the condition precedent to the employment of the various cadres of health workers in the last 12 years to warrant discrimination in the payment of their hazard allowances.
According to Ajurotu, based on earlier negotiations, the minimum benchmark and demand of JOHESU was that all health workers would earn the same hazard allowances based on their categorisation as junior and senior staff.
"This was the basis of the Federal Government's original proposal of N12,500 and N25,000 to junior and senior cadres in the health sector.
"The JOHESU/AHPA team had canvassed that some players in other less critical sectors already earned a minimum of N30,000 as hazard allowance that compelled government to consider an increase from N12,500 and N25,000 respectively to N16,000 and N32,000 for health workers in view of the more sensitive nature of the health sector.
"Our members were short-changed as our philosophy for equity and equality which were the watchwords in the payment of hazard allowances for over twelve years were negated in the computation of the final figure reflected by the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC) circular released a few days ago."
Consequently, JOHESU/APHA stated that it strongly protested the divisive and discriminatory lexicons of 'Clinical and Non-Clinical' staff which was introduced in the new NSIWC circular because none of the staff who are on the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS) and the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) was designed as clinical and non-clinical in their original employment terms.
"While reminding the Federal Government that the 1999 Constitution prohibits discrimination against citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, "which leaves us with no choice than to insist on a maintenance of the credible status-quo which places premium on all stakeholders on the two salary scales as Veritable Health Workers in Nigeria.," he stated.
In a related development, JOHESU has commended the Federal Government for the timely intervention of releasing the circular for the payment of the hazard allowance for health workers even as it faulted the circular for containing what it described "as a restrictive clause" which excluded certain categories of health workers from being paid the hazard allowance.
"These workers include, Environmental Health Officers, Scientific Officers, Social Health Workers', Animal Health Workers' Water/Sanitation, Port Health, etc, in preventive & educational/research health services institutions & departments/cadres that are not practiced in typical hospital setting but are part of the three pronge; Primary, Secondary and Teaching/Rehabilitative or Preventive, Curative & Teaching/Rehabilitative health sectors that together, strive to ensure Universal Health Coverage(UHC)."
The statement reads, "My observation is: the restrictive clause of "… Hospitals, Medical Centres and Clinics… " which will be used by mischievous Heads/CEOs to deprive genuine beneficiaries."
Ajorutu explained that JOHESU's observations are not in any way an expression of ingratitude to the Federal Government, nor a disrespect or an attempt to question the government's administrative or managerial authority.
JOHESU's scribe said that the Union has raised the alarm to avoid the loophole and omission which was created in previous circulars for hazard payment
The statement further reads, "This alert is premised on the ground that, past unintentional oversight of the non-addition of "… Clinics and Health Services, Training & Research institutions, including the Armed forces"… in the Federal… to cover the aforementioned cadres, etc, caused so much avoidable entropy. Its inclusion, especially in the spirit of the season, will save many hours of inquiries and response/tonnes of paper, ink, machinery tear & wear, man hours-loss, finance, stoppages of work & attendant effects, etc."
JOHESU said that it is strongly appealing for the inclusion of every category of health worker for the payment of hazard allowance to ensure a crisis reduced health sector."