Members of Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) resumed work in some government-owned hospitals in Lagos on Friday following suspension of the 44-day-old strike embarked upon on April 18.
Concise learnt that JOHESU on Thursday suspended its six weeks nationwide strike at the end of the National Executive Council meeting in Abuja.
According the communique signed by Biobelemoye Josiah, the national chairman of JOHESU, said the strike was called off because of the sympathy the union has for the suffering Nigerian masses.
He said that it was also to pave way for further negotiations to continue on Monday.
“We would like to place on record that JOHESU strike is neither ill nor politically motivated, but in a bid to save the health sector from imminent collapse,” it said.
A visit to some of the hospitals in Lagos showed that the workers, including nurses, pharmacists and laboratory scientists were at their various duty posts in some of the hospitals.
They were the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja; Randle General Hospital, Surulere and the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba.
The workers were seen in their uniforms in the hospitals attending to patients, while workers in the records department were seen opening files for new patients and sorting out files for the old patients.
At LASUTH, nurses and health workers were seen in the premises settling down in their duty posts, attending to the patients.
At the Randle General Hospital, Surulere, which had been hitherto “dry” of patients, patients were seen waiting to be attended to as the workers returned to their duty posts.
Nurses and other health workers were seen keeping things in order in the hospital, organising patients and getting ready to work.
However, workers at the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, had yet to resume.
Some patients told News Agency of Nigeria that they were delighted to see health workers returning to work, saying that this would speed up services at the hospitals.
In his remarks, Akin Owolabi, a patient, remarked that that the call back to duty showed positive signals to the negotiations and the health sector.
“It is a good thing that the health workers are back at work, while negotiations continue; that is the way to go.
“I urge workers to reduce the spate of strikes in the sector as government has a lot of work to be done to make the health sector stable and stop it from further deterioration.
“The Federal Government should learn to address the needs of workers before it resorts to industrial actions,” he said.
Another patient, Biola Salami, said that she visited the hospital while the strike was ongoing but was turned back, despite the booking she had for surgery.
“My son was booked for surgery, but I was told to come back after the strike. So, I’m happy that the workers are back to help the doctors.
“There should be a lasting solution to the disputes in the health sector so that lives can be saved, “ Salami said.
In her remarks, Blessing Emenike said she had been visiting the hospital during the strike and was attended to by the doctors on ground.
Emenike said: “I got my treatment and went home.
“I want to appeal to the government to consider the plights of patients and ensure proper negotiation with the health workers to avoid future strike.”
In his comments, Uzondu Eke, the South-West Coordinator of the Nigerian Union of Allied Professionals, Lagos chapter, said that workers in the Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, were yet to resume.
Eke, who works at the hospital, said that some of the union executive members were still attending the National Executive Council meeting of JOHESU in Abuja.
The coordinator of the union, which is an arm of JOHESU, said that the workers would resume on Monday.
“However, the hospital is not in total collapse as some workers have been rendering skeletal services while the strike was ongoing.
“The hospital has been working; we did this so that if there is any emergency we can still give the situation a human face.
“We are not having anything against the public and our patients.
“Rather, we are against the policies of the government that has not been favourable and do not encourage team spirit,“ Eke said.
He said that the strike was suspended to give room for the National Industrial Court to look into the matter.
Eke said: “We obeyed the court order that we should suspend the strike, while a neutral arbiter will look into the case.
“We hope that the court will look into the case and take a decision that will solve the problem.”
The Industrial Court had offered to take over the mediation process between the striking workers and the Federal Government.