Health Workers Kick Against Lagos Government's Refusal To Pay COVID-19 Allowance - EazyFeeds

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Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Health Workers Kick Against Lagos Government's Refusal To Pay COVID-19 Allowance

 Health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in Lagos State are currently being owed two months' allowances, as the state government paid for August, only last week. 

Two of the health workers told SaharaReporters that the state government, after several meetings, had threatened not to pay September and October allowances, while asking disgruntled volunteer workers to leave if they wish to. 

The rancour between the government and health workers is coming at a time when COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise in the state, with private and public secondary schools being the most observed victims of the recent spread. 

One of the workers privy to the meeting said, "We had not been paid since August, but we continued working anyway because we are in an emergency. Last week's meeting was between the leaders of health workers and the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu. The Commissioner for Health, Prof Akin Abayomi, was also in attendance. 

"The governor insisted that he would not pay the three outstanding months and he could only afford one month - August. He warned that those who were volunteers and didn't agree with the decision should stay at home. That was how the state paid the August allowance only last week." 

In an interview with SaharaReporters, another worker said, "This is not the time for Lagos State to reduce the number of health workers because we are sadly expecting but preparing for a second wave. 

"Lagos is likely to be the epicentre once again. For the past week, we have been collecting more than 300 samples every day for testing, yet the state government cannot pay our allowances up to date. 

"Some of the volunteers have started staying back from work. This is not how to respond to a pandemic. With the population of Lagos, the government should be encouraging more health volunteers to come on board." 

It was learnt that the state government had in July asked all health workers to evacuate their hotels allocated by the government, to save cost.

Also, the state government had directed in August that free meals should not be provided for the field workers any longer, again as a measure to reduce costs. 

In the latest development, the state government is allegedly calling for the forfeiture of the September and October allowances of the COVID-19 health workers. 

This is not the first time that Nigerian health workers would be denied their allowances by the government during the pandemic. 

On September 14, health services in all the Federal Government-owned hospitals in Lagos State were grounded when health workers under the Joint Health Sector Union embarked on a seven-day warning strike. 

The union, comprising pharmacists, nurses and midwives, physiotherapists, hospital attendants and laboratory scientists among others had declared the strike following the government's failure to meet its demands for improved welfare. 

The demands included the payment of health workers' hazard allowances, among others. 

Apart from Lagos, Ondo, Kaduna, and Abia are among several other states where health workers have downed their tools due to the lack of commitment from the government towards their health allowances and other benefits. 

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