by Nnamdi Ikeagu
Primary Health Care workers in the local governments of Rivers State returned to work after a one-year strike, in July. The workers downed tools mid-2014 to protest over: the inadequacy of drugs; obsolete equipment in the hospitals; non-payment of promotion arrears and pensions; and their non-placement on the Consolidated Health Salary Structure (CONHESS).
The strike was called off after negotiations between the state government and the union. The workers were assured that their demands would be addressed by the state government, with dispatch.
The workers stood firm for one year despite blackmail and intimidation, demonstrating the power of resilience in struggle. But this victory should not be taken as given until the state government actually improves working conditions and pays both the arrears demanded and the CONHESS rates to the workers.
The support of health workers in other tiers of the healthcare delivery system during the strike also demonstrated the truism of an injury to one being an injury to all. Solidarity is the most fundamental source of worker’s power. United we stand – divided we fall. When we dare to persevere, as with the year long strike by health workers in Rivers State, we dare to win.