Nigerian health workers agree to suspend strike

Nigerian health workers have suspended a week-long strike over pay, COVID-19 bonuses and inadequate facilities, unions officials said Monday.

The labour action was the latest to hit Nigeria’s health sector as the authorities struggle to tame the virus that has so far infected 57,242 and claimed 1,098 lives.

“All health workers under the five Unions that make up Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and Assembly of Healthcare Professional Associations (AHPA) shall return to work on Monday,” they said in a joint statement.

The union leaders said they would meet later to decide on “the next line of action” while urging the government to address the demands of the workers.

JOHESU, comprising pharmacists, nurses, midwives and radiographers, represents frontline workers in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The workers called the strike last week to demand improved welfare and payment of virus hazard allowance, among other issues.

Around 1,000 health workers have been infected in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with 200 million inhabitants, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control.

The government had condemned the strike as unnecessary, ill-timed and illegal.

Authorities feared any reduction in capacity could harm the country’s ability to tackle the pandemic as its caseload continues to rise.