Lies that are unfortunate, are how an official of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) described reports around the demand for a salary raise that the union had put forwards as one of the things the government has to address before they return to work.

For over one month, health workers have been out of work, in a bid to coerce the government into responding to their request that they said was long overdue. 

Since the strike began, so much has been heard about this salary increase demand and the most famous of these tales is the claim that the union wants salary parity with medical doctors. 

'It Is Unfortunate'

Bounce News spoke with a top official of the union, Olusegun Sotiloye, who is the JOHESU Chairman in the University College Hospital, Ibadan. 

On the issue about salary parity claims which medical doctors have expressed lack of support for, he said the doctors had decided to tell Nigerians a lie. 

"It is unfortunate that that is the story they have decided to tell the public that we want to earn same thing. 

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"Nothing can be farther from the truth because what we are asking for is not close to what they will be taking home.

"That they have decided to sell that story to the public gives you an incline to the kind of people we are dealing with, if they will call it bad name just to hang it. 

"We have tried to educate the public on the real situation that we are not asking for the same thing. We just wanted to be treated fairly," Mr Sotiloye. 

Comparing the salaries of medical practitioners and those of the other health workers, he emphasised that it could never be at par.

"If a fresh graduate of NBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) will be going home with 312,000 Naira and a director of almost 30 years in service will be going home with the same thing. I wonder if that is asking for parity. 

"All we are asking for is that you have left other people far behind, take us along a bit, that is what we are asking for," he stressed.

Salary increment has always been an issue in Nigeria, even the labour union is fighting for minimum wage increase, but how critical it is for a periodic review is seen in the frequency of industrial actions in almost all sectors of the nation's economy. 

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Mr Sotiloye, who is also Deputy President South, Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professionals, believes the health sector remuneration is skewed to favour medical doctors because the head of the ministry is a medical doctor. 

"We live in a very oppressive society where one group believes they have all the power and they can reinstate neo-colonialism in the health sector.

"It is unfortunate that this is what we are seeing," the perplexed JOHESU official added. 

It is not clear when the strike will end, but the union held a meeting with the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Monday and Mr Sotiloye said there was a positive result, even though the meeting was inconclusive.