The government of Kaduna State has warned health workers in the state, who are threatening to embark on strike in protest to the 25% deductions enforced by the state government, to consider such action as having forfeited their employment.
The government, in response to a strike notice by health workers, said it will not bend to blackmail and instructed that every health worker willing to work is required to sign the register at the Ministry of Health and the health institutions to which they are deployed.
The Congress of Health Workers’ Unions and Associations in Kaduna State had given the state government an ultimatum to refund the 25 percent salary cuts from their April and May salaries as well as tasked the government to provide them with Personal Protective Equipment.
The union, in a communique issued within the week warned of strike action should the state government fail to meet its demands.
However, a statement issued by the Special Adviser to the Governor Nasir El-Rufai, on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, announced that the state government will not bow to what it described as “naked blackmail” as it will keep its health facilities running and protect staff that are willing to work.
It directed the Ministry of Health to ensure that health facilities run and provide services to the public with the support of willing workers who must be offered every assistance and protection.
“The government noted that it is instructive that the strike action was announced on the same day that many health workers were showing evidence on social media of the N450,000 they had received as April 2020 incentive.
“Government rejects the strike threat and will regard persons who fail to show up at their assigned places of work as having forfeited their employment,” it stated.
“Every effort will be made to ensure that health facilities keep functioning, staffed by willing workers who will be guaranteed free and safe access to health facilities.
“Those who are not willing to work are strongly warned against criminal action such as attempts to impede access to workplaces, harass willing workers or to sabotage facilities and equipment,” it further stated.
The statement further described as a form of “naked blackmail” the action of health workers to declare a strike action amidst the Covid-19 pandemic stressing that they had based their assumptions on “the mistaken assumption that the state government will reward irresponsible conduct by some health workers with surrender.
“The state government will not be misled into granting health workers a special status amongst public servants.”
It stated that the consequences of concessions made along such lines by previous governments have created a sense that “some public servants are more precious than others.”
It added that, “government will not be browbeaten by strike action into excluding health workers from the sacrifices being made by other public servants who are donating 25 percent of their salary to fund the provision of palliatives for low-income, poor and vulnerable persons that are impacted by the lockdown.”
The governor clarified that the salary deductions introduced in April 2020 apply to everyone who works for the state government from the governor to the most junior civil servant with take-home pay of more than N50, 000 monthly, stressing that it does not favour or discriminate against any professional group in the public service.
The Kaduna State Government had on April 2020, commenced the payment of daily incentives of between N5, 000 and N15, 000 to frontline health workers in the state as well as a monthly incentive of 10% of net pay for other health workers in public hospitals and primary health centres.
The government has also provided them with additional insurance coverage for death and disability to the tune of N5 million for death and N2.5 million for disability while Covid-19 infection cover of N100, 000 for 10 days.