The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Deacon Udom Emmanuel has ordered striking health workers in the State to resume work with immediate effect or risk been sacked.
Recall that the Joint Health Workers Union JOHESU had on Tuesday embarked on an indefinite strike after a 15-day ultimatum given to the State government to accede to their demands elapsed.
The demands among others were to be given 50% of their basic salary as hazard allowance, reinstatement of about 720 sacked local government health workers, release of circular on implementation of the agreed 80 per cent of the National Consolidated Health Salary Structure and the recruitment of more health workers due to the shortfall occasioned by death and retirement.
But the State Government in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Udoh on Wednesday said the strike action embarked upon by the union was ill-conceived.
Udoh described as ‘unreasonable’ JOHESU’s demand for payment of 50% of basic salaries as hazard allowance in the prevailing harsh economic climate.
The Statement reads in parts, “This is in spite of concerted efforts by government to provide the best of working conditions for health workers in the state, including up to date payment of all due salaries and allowances, which makes our state one of the best paying states in the health sector.
“Against this backdrop, government is constrained to state that it is unreasonable and also unlawful for healthcare professionals to embark on any form of strike action during the period of Coronavirus pandemic.
“Therefore, a full compliment of related healthcare professionals are expected at their duty posts unfailingly, as required by the terms and conditions of their employment.
“Any staff not found on duty will be considered to be no longer interested in the job and will be relieved of such duty with immediate effect. The relevant health authorities have been mandated to conduct headcount”.
The government stated that it has made adequate arrangements to ensure that those who are interested in performing their lawful duties are allowed to do so without disruption or molestation of any sort.
The government further stated that anyone found obstructing or disrupting healthcare operations anywhere in the state, under the pretext of industrial action, will be apprehended and prosecuted.
“It is criminal for anyone to obstruct health care workers from performing their legitimate duties in this period of emergency
“Government is aware that the ill-conceived industrial action and blatant act of sabotage by JOHESU is sponsored by political detractors with an underlying intent to vandalize healthcare facilities in the state,” Udoh further said.
The government disclosed that security agencies in the state have been fully briefed to ensure the continued protection of lives and property, using all legal means.