Kaduna State Government has vowed to keep its health facilities running and protect staff willing to provide services to the public, in the event of any strike action by health workers.
In a statement on Thursday in Kaduna and signed by Special Adviser to Gov. Nasir El-Rufai on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye, the government said it rejects the strike threat and will not bend to blackmail.
The government said every health worker that is willing to work is required to sign a register at the Ministry of Health and the health institutions to which they were deployed.
The governor warned that those not willing to work against any attempts to impede access to workplaces, harassing willing workers, or sabotaging facilities and equipment.
According to the government, declaring strike action amidst the COVID-19 pandemic was naked blackmail and irresponsible.
It stressed that the state government would not be misled into granting health workers any special status.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the health workers have threatened to go on strike over the unilateral deduction of their salaries by the state government in April.
The 25 percent salary deductions applied to all workers in the employment of the government purportedly done to fund COVID-19 prevention in the state.
“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% of their salary to fund the provision of palliative.
“The palliatives were for low income, poor and vulnerable persons that are impacted by the lockdown,’’ the government said.
NAN reports that the state government is yet to commence the distribution of the palliatives since the deduction of the salaries.
It had earlier offered foodstuffs to residents in a few local government areas, during which it said N500 million was spent.
According to the statement, donation to the COVID-19 fund is a show of solidarity that applies to everyone employed by the government, including health workers.
It recalled that the government had offered additional allowances to health workers engaged in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.
It explained that high risk staff are receiving compensation of N15,000 per day, for all cadres of personnel who are in close contact with COVID-19 patients.
“Medium risk staff are receiving N10,000 per day. These are officers involved in taking samples, transferring patients to treatment centres, tracing contacts, etc, while low-risk staff are receiving N5,000 per day.
“The government is also paying a monthly incentive of 10 per cent of net pay to each and every health worker in its hospitals and primary health centres.
“In addition, the Kaduna State Government has paid premiums for an enhanced insurance package for health workers that raises the death and disability benefits to N5 million and N2.5 million, respectively.
“The insurance package also includes payment of N100,000 per day for 10 days to health workers who get infected with Covid-19,” the statement said.
It said the state government regards the health workers’ demand to treat the over 11,000 persons working in the health sector as frontline staff and pay them accordingly as not a serious request.
On complaint of inadequate Personal Protective Equipments, the government said despite the global supply difficulties, it had consistently tried to keep its secondary health facilities supplied.