Comrade Morakinyo Olajide Rilwan is the unit NANNM chairman of National Ear care centre Kadunna as well as JOHESU chairman of that same institution. In this interview with Fellow Nurses Africa, ( FNA ) he addresses some misconceptions about the ongoing JOHESU strike and why Nurses should not pull out of JOHESU.
FNA : The joint health sector Union have embarked on an indefinite industrial action for over 4 weeks now, In summary, what are their demands that necessitated this industrial action?
Comrade: Thank you, our demands are numerous but we brought it down to fifteen ( 15 ) points demands
And it bothers on
1 . Scale to scale promotion
2 . Skipping of conhess 10
3. Non payment of promotion arrears, uniform allowance to nurses
4. Adjustment of conhess salary as done for doctors in 2014.
5 , Retirement age from 60 to 65 e.t.c
FNA: Nurses had started internship , or what do you mean about that sir?
Comrade: Yes, nurses have started but some hospitals have not started accepting Nurse interns.
FNA: How do Nurses benefit from the demands above?
Comrade: It is very obvious, from adjustment of Conhess salary structure , skipping arrears, promotion arrears, scale to scale abolition and uniform allowance,
Consultancy cadres and proper placement of Nurses.
FNA: What do you mean by scale to scale abolition?
Comrade: Scale to scale promotion means promotion from conhess 11 to 11. 12 to 12 , 13 to 13.
Ordinarily people should move from 11 to 12 , 12 to 13 and so on.
FNA: You just made reference to CONMESS and adjustment of CONHESS table, can you differentiate between the two?
Comrade: Thank you. you know all health workers in ministry of health were on CONTISS initially i.e CONSOLIDATED TERTIARY HEALTH INSTITUTIONS SALARY SCALE But the doctor were not satisfied with that but went ahead in conjunction with their cohorts in the ministry and made salary and wages commission to coined out CONMESS i.e consolidated medical salary scale with different entry point for doctors while CONHESS means consolidated health salary scale. Doctors entry point is GL 13 equivalent to conhess 12 while other like pharmacy is conhess 9 GL 10
And that of nurses of course varies from conhess 7 to 8 depending on either post basic or basic and working experience, this was because there was no tentative scheme of service for nurses.
So many institutions places nurses as they like. Till now graduate nurses were being place on conhess 8, this is part of what we are fighting for.
FNA: And what is JOHESU / NANNM doing to ensure proper scheme of service for nurses
Comrade: Now we have succeeded in getting scheme of service for nurses through National council of establishment but not yet gazetted by the federal government
FNA: What’s the content or placement in this new scheme of service and what is stopping the federal government from gazetting it or is it part of what johesu is fighting for?
Comrade: Truly what is stopping gazetting was the error in placement of entry point of nurse interns, and it has to go back to NATIONAL COUNCIL OF ESTABLISHMENT ( NCE) for correction. This body meets every four year. They met 4 years ago in Minna where we secure the approval and this year around February, so I am not in the picture if it was re- presented by the national leadership.
Although, the error was not from NANNM but NCE which led to a circular from head of service that places interns on GL 9 instead of CONHESS 9.
FNA: I was aware of this mistake, same with some nurses and I remember calling the attention of the national executive to it then but nothing was done to correct the head of service with immediate effect. So, do you think if it was re-presented, you as a federal executive member of NANNM will not be aware? or we should just assume it wasn’t re- presented, right?
Comrade: I am a national executive council of NANNM – FHI but not that of NANNM National. But there was a brief by one of our NANNM – NAC i.e national administrative council in kano during mobilization for this strike in February where the question was asked and he said it was to be re – presented. So there has not been any forum again to ask as we have been busy with strike issue . I wont say it was not represented because it was supposed to be.
FNA: What’s johesu doing to ensure proper placement of nurses ( Conhess 8 ) as against 9 of other johesu members?
Comrade: Scheme of service will address it permanently
Since nursing internship has started.
FNA: There’s been speculations that johesu is only using nurses to press it selfish demands, what’s your take on this?
Comrade: Well, I don’t believe in that speculation, although I belong to the group that dreams of a day nurses in Nigeria can collectively demands for our right and independently embark on a strike without joining any other professionals. But we are not yet there because nurses are divided with various internal crisis. So johesu are not using us because everybody has its own peculiar issues to deal with and it is always being listed whenever there is negotiation.
Mind you, doctors will want nurses to denounce johesu because they can make do without pharmacist, laboratory, radiographers by privatising them but nursing is impossible for them.
FNA: Some, even doctors are of the opinions that Nurses should form alliance with NMA instead of johesu, what do you see to that?
Comrade: Not possible, it can never be possible. It is tantamount to enslaving ourselves, knowing how egoistic doctors are in the sector. Their grandiose of delusion will never make it work , and we will never contemplate it, not even for once.
FNA: Are you saying nurses should not pull out of johesu?
Comrade:We are not ripe to do so for now. Until when we can speak with one voice.
FNA: Nurses are the most populous workforce in the health sector, don’t you think that’s an advantage for them to press their own course?
Comrade: Population without cohesion is baseless. We are still porous and easy to divide. At least for now.
Yes, look at issues like state, federal and local goverment, Graduate / non graduate, specialties, etc
Look at body languages of some states in this present strike. How they are reluctant .
FNA: Controversies have trailed conferring consultancy status on Nurses and other health workers, do you think they deserve this status?
Comrade: Why not ? Is it not when you become an authority in your field that you are a consultant ? What is their business in that ? You know doctors don’t like competition ? So they are just afraid of losing relevance and recognitions.
FNA: The honorable minister of health just said there’s no agreement between the federal government and johesu, what’s your take on this?
Comrade: He is a pathological liar. What of the term of settlement circular issued on his behalf by the Director of hospital services then Dr. wapada Baĺami on 30 sept 2017 and the agreement letter signed by him after the meeting with leaderships on 27th and 28th sept 2017 ?
FNA: Some Nurses have been going to work during this industrial action as a management staff / locum staff, what is your take on this?
Comrade:Smiles…and unfortunately for them, they were not also paid April salary like us. Let them continue, posterity is awaiting for us all. We are watching.
FNA: Do you think that’s enough or there’s any penalty for them from johesu?
Comrade: No penalty yet but the union is working on possible punitive measures
FNA: What can you say about NO WORK NO PAY that was just enforced on your Union by the ministry of health?
Comrade: It is baseless and against public service rule for a worker to work for 2 weeks pro rata and not get paid. And labour law says 3months
FNA: On a final note, how do you think Government can restore sanity and put an end to this professional rivalry in the health sector to a standstill?
Comrade: Government should appoint neutral body like hospital administrators to manage health sector just like pre Babangida era. And let everybody perform its professional duty, without this, disharmony in the system is just starting.
FNA: Thanks for the time and attention to respond to us today sir.