Kaduna State Government has vowed to keep its health facilities running and to protect staff that are willing to provide services to the public.
The government which made this known on Thursday, in its official response to the notice of strike issued by health workers, also said that it will not bend to blackmail.
A statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, warned that “The Government rejects the strike threat and will regard persons who fail to show up at their assigned places of work as having forfeited their employment.’’
‘’Every health worker that is willing to work is required to sign the register at the Ministry of Health and the health institutions to which they are deployed,’’ he emphasised.
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Adekeye further warned that “those who are not willing to work are strongly warned against criminal action such as attempts to impede access to workplaces, harass willing workers or to sabotage facilities and equipment.”
The Special Adviser pointed out that to “declare strike action amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is naked blackmail, based on the mistaken assumption that the state government will reward irresponsible conduct by some health workers with surrender.”
According to him, the government will not be misled into granting health workers a special status amongst public servants.
Adekeye argued that “the consequences of concessions made along such lines by previous governments have created a sense that some public servants are more precious than others.”
The Special Adviser reminded that the salary deductions which were “introduced in April 2020 apply to everyone who works for Kaduna State Government, from the Governor to the most junior civil servant with a take-home pay of more than N50,000 monthly.”
“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 palliatives for low-income, poor and vulnerable persons that are impacted by the lockdown,” he added.
The statement said that it frowns at discriminating against any professional group in the public service, adding that the donation to the Covid-19 fund is a show of solidarity which ‘’applies to everyone employed by the government, and therefore does not exclude health workers.’’
The Special Adviser pointed out that health workers are already being paid additional amounts as part of an Occupational Safety Initiative.
The statement said that “high risk staff are receiving a compensation of N15,000 per day. This refers to all cadres of personnel who are in close contact with Covid-19 patients.”
Adekeye further said that “medium risk staff are receiving N10,000 per day. These are officers involved in taking samples, transferring patients to treatment centres, tracing contacts etc.”
The Special Adviser further said that “low risk staff are receiving N5,000 per day”.
According to him, “government is also paying a monthly incentive of 10% 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 N5m and N2.5m respectively. The insurance package also includes payment of N100,000 per day for 10 days to health workers who get infected with Covid-19,” he added.
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 as such is not a serious request.”
The statement said that “there is a global shortage of PPEs, but amidst these supply-side difficulties the state government consistently tries to keep its secondary health facilities supplied.”