Medical Lab Scientists National President condemns Kano bomb attack

On behalf of the National Executive Officers and the entire members of Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN), I would like to commiserate with the people of Kano State over the recent bomb attack that claimed many lives in Kano city.

The bomb blast was indeed a national catastrophe! Our Association strongly condemn this and urge governments at all levels to find a lasting solution to this ugly situation to ensure security of lives & properties not only in the northern part of the country but also in all parts of Nigeria.

In view of the need for urgent blood transfusion which attacks like this could involve, we call on all Medical Laboratory Scientists in Kano municipal and its environs to ensure that the victims of this dastardly act get the required blood or blood components promptly.

In times like this, saving lives is of paramount importance to our Association. Notwithstanding the ongoing national industrial action, our members should not rest on their oars in helping to save the lives of victims that could be in need of blood or blood products for survival.

Alh T Y Raheem,
National President, AMLSN



Greetings and Introduction

I welcome you all, the gentlemen of the press to this press briefing by our Union, NUAHP. The Union’s name without doubt is relatively new among registered trade Unions in the country but in actual fact, the Union was established and recognized by the Federal Government by the Decree 22 of 1978 and it is one of the five registered Unions in Nigerian Health Sector. Since that time, its original name was Nigerian Union of Pharmacists, Medical Technologists and Professions Allied to Medicine (NUPMTPAM).
It was just about two years ago the Union’s name was changed from NUPMTPAM to NUAHP. Membership of the Union: The Union comprises of Physical Therapists (Physiotherapists), Medical Laboratory Scientists, Radiographers or Medical Imaging Scientists, Pharmacists, Dietitians, Medical Social workers, Clinical Psychologists, Medical Physicists, Optometrists, Health Information Managers, Orthotics and a few others.
The only healthcare Professionals who are not members of this Union are the Medical and Dental Practitioners, who are members of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and of course Nurse and Mid-wives who are members of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Mid-wives (NANNM). The National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Mid-wives is a registered trade Union while NMA is not. So, whenever the NMA embarked on strike, it was an illegal strike. Despite this illegality of their strikes, Government has always been listening to them and in fact, always acceding to their requests such that previously acceded requests of other Unions are usually wiped off.
This is the major issue that should be discussed in this press briefing. There is a heavy dose of discrimination in the Health Sector of Nigeria. Here, the Government of the day discriminates against other healthcare Professionals in favour of NMA. The current strike by NUAHP declared by the leadership of this Union on Monday the 13th of October, 2014 actually took off on the 16th of October, 2014. So far, the strike has been effective nationwide and is still on. If the Federal Government does not meet our demands by this Thursday 6th of November, 2014, we hereby direct all our members working for States Government to join the strike, and subsequently this strike will spread to facility at the local Government Areas.
What are the reasons for embarking on this recent strike? It should be noted that NUAHP is a member of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and JOHESU had been engaging the Federal Government in a number of demands since 2010. It would be very surprising to note that whereas issues that were generated since 2010, which various negotiations, collective bargaining had taken place, agreements had been reached, memoranda of understanding had been entered into between the Federal Government and JOHESU, some of the cases were taken to National Industrial Court (NIC) and judgements were entered in favour of the Union, yet the Federal Government had continued to deceive us, to play with time, and refuse to implement all these agreements and Memoranda of Understanding as well as Court Judgements which had been delivered in our favour. For instance, as a result of Professor Olikoye Ransome Kuti’s discriminatory salary structure introduced in 1991, we were involved in protests strikes litigations which were concluded through NIC in March, 2006 which directed the Federal Ministry of Health to engage us in bargaining to arrive at a mutually acceptable rate of call duty allowance.
Gentlemen of the press, as I speak to you now, the Federal Government had not acceded to the Court judgement since 2006. Between 2006 and 2009, frantic efforts were made and during collective bargaining meetings held with Professor Osotimehin (a Medical Practitioner) as a Minister of Health in 2009, he carefully dodged us throughout the negotiations that call duty allowance was not allowed to be negotiated. This led our Union to boycott the collective bargaining agreement signing session on 2nd December, 2009 between November and December, which made us to embark on strike to press home our demands. The strike yielded the pressure that put a clause in the 2009 collective agreement which enabled us to demand that call duty allowance be negotiated in future.
Eventually, by March this year, we had the opportunity of discussing this matter and collective agreement was reached that the call duty allowance should be made a percentage of consolidated salary of beneficiary. Up-till now, Federal Government has not released the circular to operationalize the collective agreement of March this year. We therefore call on the Federal Government to release this circular without any further delay.
The second major problem that is leading to the current strike is the refusal of Federal Ministry of Health and its agencies to pay the specialist allowance that was mutually agreed in 2009. In 2009, through a collective agreement, it was agreed that the specialist allowance should be paid to hospital based healthcare Professionals who possess the requisite and relevant post-graduate qualifications and appoint-able into Consultant grade CONHESS 13 to 15. This allowance is being enjoyed and paid to Medical and Dental Practitioners since January 2010. The non-payment of Specialists allowance made us to go to Court and the Court ruled in July 2013 in our favour. Despite that Court pronouncement, we have not been paid till now.
The next stage of agitation are the non-implementation of the agreement reached with us on the 10th of May, 2012. Whereas it was agreed in May 2012 after another strike action of almost a week, we were able to reach agreement that all our members who possess appropriate University degree or equivalent Professional qualifications and had reached salary CONHESS 14 should be promoted to salary CONHESS 15 which is equivalent to civil service grade level 17. As we speak, despite having so many qualified people who have spent close to  14 years on the salary grade, the Federal Government has not fully implemented this agreement except for one or two Institutions that have carried out this, others are yet to comply since 2012 when the agreement was reached..
Similarly, it was also agreed that the Recommendations of Abdullahi Bello Presidential Committees report be implemented. If that has been done, the plight of other Health Professionals would have improved tremendously but due to a connivance of the immediate past Minister of Health with the NMA, these recommendations have been abandoned, only to pass it on to another Committee called Yayale Ahmed which was set up in September last year and ought to have finished his assignment since last year December, yet to do so till now. All are aimed at frustrating our members and to deny them of their rights. 
Another agreement which was reached in May 2012 is the up-ward review of retirement age of Teaching Hospitals and related Tertiary Hospitals Staff. Ordinarily, we don’t need to even negotiate on this at all because as far back as 1981 when the Federal Government’s Philip Onosode Presidential Commission reviewed the conditions of service in Teaching Hospitals and Research Institutes, it was already agreed by Government that the Universities Teaching Hospitals and Research Institutes should enjoy similar conditions of service and since the University Staff have been enjoying retirement age of 65 and 70 years, it should be made automatic to Universities Teaching Hospitals. Despite the fact we have reached agreement on this since May, 2012, up-till this time, this has not been implemented. Just for the Federal Government to issue a circular to bring into existence what has been agreed upon, it has not been done. Despite the fact that University Lecturers who work in Teaching Hospitals continue to enjoy this benefit, the Staff of Teaching Hospitals are denied the same.
In view of the fact that this has already been enacted into law by the Federal Government dated 11th May 2012, we use this occasion to state clearly that all our members in Teaching Hospitals and Tertiary Hospitals in the country are automatically qualified to benefit the review their University counterparts are enjoying since the two Institutions are associated by law and functions.
Similarly, it has been resolved in 2012 that the composition of the Management Board of our various Hospitals should be done in such a way that no healthcare Professionals should dominate the membership of the Board. A situation where 8-10 out of 13 members of the Board of Management of each Hospital are Medical Practitioners (one Association) and only one person represents twenty Professional groups. 
Others are:
1. Non-implementation of Job Evaluation Report of 2008 which favours other health Professionals
2. Non-payment of arrears of salary of officers who benefited in the 22nd June 2013 NIC judgement on skipping of CONHESS 10 salary.
3. Consultancy status withdrawal from other health Professionals except Medical Practitioners.
4. Salary Adjustment for all other health Professionals and workers other than NMA members whose salary was adjusted in January leaving out others. A classical example of discrimination. We demand the issuance of the relevant circular and payment of 2 months arrears now while the rest be paid in 2015.
5. Creation of departments of:
5.1. Medical Laboratory Sciences separate from Pathology
5.2. Optometry, Dental Technology and Therapy
5.3. Radiography etc to confer Professional autonomy to each Profession.
6. Complete Autonomy for University Teaching Hospitals viz:
6.1. Clear cut definition of rules for honourary Consultants compare to permanent Staff of Teaching Hospitals.
6.2. Immediate stoppage of appointment of University Staff as CMD, CMAC, Heads of Clinical departments of Teaching Hospital.
6.3. Need to appoint more Hospital- based Consultants than honourary Consultants.
6.4. Appointment of CMDs, CMAC, Heads of Departments among full time/permanent Staff of Teaching Hospitals.
6.5. Others: Appointment of new CMD for LUTH, Lagos advert is injurious.

The way forward
1. Proper interpretation and implementation of the Teaching Hospitals Act or its re-enactment.
2. Presidency should be sensitive to the yearnings of other workers other than NMA members.
3. Appointment of Ministers from both sides to ensure balancing and harmony.


Dear Mr. President

We are interns ( Doctors, Dentist, Pharmacists, Optometrist and Laboratory Scientists) working with the ministry of defence at the following hospital: armed forces hospital Kaduna, 68th armed forces hospital Lagos, Nigerian Navy Reference hospital Ojo Lagos,48th armed forces hospital Lagos, 442 Nigerian Air force hospital ikeja. We are writing to inform you of the injustice currently been meted out on us.

In February early this year, about eight months ago, we received appointment letters from the ministry of defence asking us to come work with them at their various military hospital establishments. Having already endured gruesome conditions during the examination and interview process for the job, we considered ourselves very lucky successful candidates as we enthusiastically rushed to collect the appointment letters and commenced work accordingly.
Ever since our appointment we have dutifully carried out our assignments for eight months, but to our uttermost dismay, the ministry of defence; our employers have bluntly refused to pay us our salaries. In this light, we have written numerous letters to the relevant authorities, begging them, we have cried, dialogued, but they have constantly turned a deaf ear to our plea.
When we visited the ministry of defence head quarters in Abuja, sometime in August, we were told that they do not have our salaries because our payment was not reflected in this year’s budget! Mr. President, you will agree with us that it is very ludicrous for an employer to advertise vacancies for positions in the dailies, conduct interviews and subsequently hire employee only to tell them eight months after working that their salaries was not included in the yearly budget.

Sir, we sadly say that this nefarious act has been occurring repeatedly for many years now, we learnt that the ministry of defence is in the habit of treating interns like slaves, they hastily employ them and then keep their salaries for months, when the interns become frustrated and begin to clamor for their wages, they are punished by a slash in the salaries or at best receive only half of their one year pay.  Your Excellency sir, we have no one else to turn to, because the culprits in the ministry of defence have become embolden by their ability to get away with this callous acts for years. An official from the ministry of defence actually said this to us, and we quote “what can you (the interns) do if we decide not to pay your salaries? After all, you are ordinary interns, no one cares about you!”
Sir, we are writing to you because as our leader, we know that you have invested interest in the development of youths in this country. This is why on the 11th of October 2011 you launched the youth enterprise with innovation in Nigeria scheme to harness the creative energy of the young people in Nigeria. Unfortunately Mr. President, there are some individuals in your administration that do not share the same goals as you do. They believe that they can constantly harass, intimidate and disenfranchise youths in this country, and they continue to do this with great impunity. Sir, as a man of integrity we are hoping that you would not stand for this. That is why we are aptly bringing it to your notice.
What saddens us most is that even when the Nigerian medical Association was on strike and there appeared to be a halt in the provision of medical services in this country, we were still working tirelessly! In the peak of the Ebola medical fiasco that nearly swallowed the nation, we were relentless in our work. Without pay, we showed up to work every morning to care for our patients. Sir, in all fairness, we can say that we did our part to stifle the spread of the Ebola virus within the shores of our country. And for this great feat what have we asked for, is it a rise in our pay? Is it a well deserved increase in our hazard allowance? Is it a medal of honor as a national hero working during a time of disaster? No sir, what we have asked for instead is that our basic salary be paid. We wish to be paid for the work we have done, nothing more!
Mr President, not only are we fresh graduates that are newly experiencing what it is like working in the civil service, a number of us are married, we have children, we are uncles, aunts, we have dreams, aspirations and lots of responsibilities. Ironically, the nonpayment of our salaries has made it practically impossible for us to meet our numerous responsibilities to ourselves, families and the society. Sir, we are hungry, our children are hungry, and it is disheartening to see that we have gradually become a burden to those that truly love us. They have being of great assistance for eight months already, we cannot continue to mount tremendous financial burdens on them. Please we need your help, we need it urgently.
Your Excellency, you have repeatedly said that theft is not corruption, indeed, we totally agree with you. Since we cannot imagine that the culprits of these stoically nefarious acts in the ministry of defence are only corrupt. How can one keep the salaries of their employees for months, abandon them, make them work without pay, then clad yourselves with the cloak of corruption? No, they must be thieves!
Even though it is clear that the ministry of defence is the one to be blamed for the nonpayment of our salaries, we are forced to also sadly inform you of the uncanny part played by the commanders in the respective hospitals of primary posting. These are people we expect to be more sympathetic to our plight, because they are the ones we work for; the direct recipient of our services. But they have resulted to victimizing us. They have repeatedly threatened us; they said they would read out the armed forces act to us. We were threatened that if we continued to ask for our salaries our programs will be extended. One commander actually threatened not to sign us out of the program. In all these, we believe that the greatest injustice was the wrongful eviction of the interns working with the 68th army hospital Lagos without prior notice. 
Mr. President, we are not slaves, this is our country, what crime have we committed to be treated this way? Except that we opted to serve and are still serving our great country Nigeria. We have heeded to the words so often recanted in our national anthem, “arise oh compatriots’, Nigeria call obey”. Here we are working for our nation, giving our best. But Sir, to allow this mayhem to go unpunished is tantamount to allowing the labor of our heroes passed to be in vain, God forbid! Our holy book admonishes that “a laborer is entitled to his wages” therefore Sir, we should not be punished for asking for our salaries.
It is our total confidence, that you will speedily do something about this grave injustice. God bless you as you do. God bless the federal republic of Nigeria.
Ministry of Defence INTERNS