Akwa Ibom state government has ordered striking health professionals to return to work immediately or risk being replaced by a fresh set of workers.
Speaking through a statement signed by the commissioner for information, Mr. Charles Udoh on Wednesday, the state government said the strike action embarked upon by the Joint Health Workers Union (JOHESU) was ill-conceived.
Describing the strike action as unreasonable, Udoh said JOHESU’s demand for payment of 50% of basic salaries as hazard allowance in the prevailing harsh economic climate was unrealistic.
He said the state government has made concerted efforts 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.
“The efforts of the state government in this regard has continued to receive widespread commendations from various healthcare stakeholders in the country.
“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 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 head count”. He said
The Commissioner said the state government 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.
His words “Anyone found obstructing or disrupting healthcare operations any where in the state, under the pretext of an 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.
“Citizens and residents are enjoined to continue to cooperate with the government in the fight to curtail the surge of the COVID19 Pandemic in our state”.