The Professionals and Allied Workers Union (PAWU) of the National Health Insurance Authority has threatened a nationwide strike.
The workers have warned management of the Authority to take immediate action and address all outstanding issues of the over 3,000 staff of the Authority across the country.
They said failure to do so will compel them to lay down their tools.
In a strong-worded letter addressed to the Chief Executive Officer of the NHIA dated 8th November, 2021, the workers raised a number of issues such as the non-payment of staff salary arrears, long-standing discrimination in the implementation of staff benefits, refusal of management to implement staff notch movements, unlawful interdiction of staff, no medical support for ailing staff amongst others.
“We urge NHIA to speedily take appropriate measures to avert a looming industrial upheaval,” the letter stated.
The letter, signed by the acting General Secretary of PAWU, Mr. Seth Abloso, said the situation risks affecting the impending commemoration of the NHIA since staff are demoralized and demotivated. The letter stated that the Union shares in the frustration of staff of the undue delay which fuels the perception that the management and the Board of the NHIA are not responsive to the plight of staff.
Non-payment of salary arrears
The letter said, “Staff salary arrears from January to June 2020 continue to be outstanding despite repeated requests for the Authority to fulfill its obligations.”
In 2020, the management of the NHIA after a negotiation with the Union approved a salary increment of 10%. But management failed to implement this increment including other parts of the agreement. The union has been persisted in their request but fell on deaf ears. As a result, the provoked workers of the NHIA across the country are speedily losing their patients as management has blatantly refused to pay the staff the arrears of 2020.
PAWU stated strongly in the letter that “Staff notch movements which should have been implemented in January 2021 has to date not been effected”. It added that management has also failed to implement the 3% salary notch movement for staff which was approved in 2018. PAWU indicated that sadly, management has also taken a posture of communicating to staff and derelicting on their duty.
The letter which is requesting an urgent standing negotiating committee meeting said the staff Collective Agreement (CA) has not been reviewed for about four years and proposals submitted by the Union have not been responded to by management. Meanwhile, the CA is due to expire on 31st December, 2021.
The statement said in spite of the discriminatory behaviours by management, the entire membership of PAWU had exercised patience. It stressed that although complaints of long-standing discrimination in the implementation of some benefits to staff have been acknowledged by management, the urgency required to address such egregious abuse has not been made manifest and same discrimination persists unabated.
The statements noted that there are grievance issues of unlawful interdiction which require review and resolution.