The federal government says it has reached an agreement with members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) and the assembly of healthcare professionals association.
Chris Ngige, minister of labour and employment, said this on Tuesday, while addressing journalists at the end of a five-hour meeting with the leadership of JOHESU in Abuja.
JOHESU had, on September 3, issued a 15-day ultimatum to the federal government to meet their demands or the health workers would embark on a strike.
According to Ngige, a memorandum of understanding would be signed next week.
He said both sides reached an understanding on all the issues in dispute, adding that matters discussed included the hazard allowance, review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, and arrears relating to the adjustment on the national minimum wage.
He added that an understanding was also reached on the upward adjustment of Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS), as done with Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
In his words: “Based on previous discussion, we delivered to them (JOHESU) the financial implication of what is due to them and they promised to get back to their members and report back to us,” the minister said.
“On the other hand, government is meeting with NMA next week for their separate discussion on hazard allowance. Already, the federal government has budgeted the sum of N37.5 billion for this.
“The issue was resolved to the satisfaction of all of us. The government is not delaying the hazard allowance as some people want the public to believe.
“Since the past six months, government has been making concerted efforts to push the new hazard allowance into effect, which we are doing now but for disagreement between NMA and JOHESU.”
On the upward review of retirement age from 60 to 65 years, Ngige said the meeting received reports from the office of the head of service of the federation and the federal ministry of health, and agreement has been reached on the proposal.
He added that JOHESU will meet with the ministry of health on Thursday to draw up a framework for all the discussions.
“We will be ready to address all the issues. But we agreed that as a result of the perilous state of economy, the principle of capacity to pay will guide all our discussion,” he said.
In his remarks, Josiah Biobelemonye, JOHESU president, said “strike is not the way to go”, and expressed optimism that all issues raised by the unions would be addressed appropriately.