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Health workers decry poor wages, rising cost of living 

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan with agency report

As Nigeria marks the 2024 Worker’s Day, healthcare workers in the country have decried the poor economic conditions in the country, which they lamented have inflicted untold hardships on them.

They said while there are some improvements in allowances, their working conditions have not improved since the administration of President Bola Tinubu.

The Federal Government declared Wednesday, May 1, 2024, as a public holiday in commemoration of Workers’ Day.

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, who declared the holiday emphasised the importance of excellence, efficiency, and fairness in labour.

Tunji-Ojo reiterated President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s dedication to fostering innovation, productivity, and inclusivity in workplaces.

Speaking, the President of the Medical and Dental Consultants’ Association of Nigeria, Prof Muhammad Muhammad said, “The working condition is virtually as it is. The economy is affecting everyone all over the country.

“For now, there are not many changes physically, we’ve seen some efforts being made to give waivers for the employment of more healthcare workers, but the issue is that availability is one of the major problems, as you are aware of the Japa syndrome.

“As far as I’m concerned, the working conditions are as it was in the last year. Because the little progress that is made on the implementation of 25-35 per cent of basic salary was overtaken by the economic situation. So, people are a bit lower economically than they were in the last year, because of the economic changes that have occurred.

“Some efforts have been made to see how they can mobilise some resources and machinery, but they are yet to reach the hospital,” the don said.

The General Secretary of the Joint Health Sector Unions, Martins Egbanubi said healthcare workers are still trying to cope with the socio-economic condition imposed by the policy of the subsidy removal about one year ago.

He said, “It’s not palatable. There is terrible stress on our wages, and the rising cost of living, which is astronomical, is really harming us. So, it’s not the best of times for healthcare workers, and that’s why you still see that healthcare professionals still leave the country.”

Egbanubi noted that the gains of the 2019 minimum wage have been eroded by the increase in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol).

“We need a living wage, a living wage takes into consideration the cost of living, not just an adjustment of wage that at the end of the day you begin to witness price increases because the food inflation is just uncalled for.

“I’m not being pessimistic, but the fact is that if we go by some of these policies, without being conscious of the fact that the economy has to be productive because we can’t be a consuming economy and want things to get better. There’s no magic anywhere. We must have an economy that produces and be able to attract foreign exchange so that we can be able to have a service-oriented system,” he stated.

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