The management of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has urged its aggrieved workers to call off their industrial action and embrace dialogue to address their concerns.
The agency said that a meeting has been scheduled with the leadership of the Medical Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHUWN) on Thursday, next week.
The workers had commenced a seven-day warning strike last Thursday to compel the management of NAFDAC to address their grievances, which include non-payment of promotion arrear, non-review of job specific allowance, suspension of staff training and backlog of unpaid staff financial claims.
Other grievances are non-payment of severance package, poor work environment and lack of staff bus to ease transportation difficulties.
The Resident Media Consultant of NAFDAC, Sayo Akintola, who spoke with journalists on Friday, said the union should have waited for the issues to be addressed at the meeting before commencing strike.
He said: “It’s unfortunate that the union had scheduled a meeting with the management for next week Tuesday only to embark on strike on Thursday.
“They should have waited for the outcome of the meeting before going on strike. This is the position of the Director General when I spoke to her last night.”
Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, was quoted by Akintola as having assured the workers that the dispute is being resolved, adding that before the expiration of the seven days, the strike would be called off.
Akintola said the DG has enjoyed good working relationship with the union and the staff since she assumed office three years ago due to her staff-friendly management style.
“In 2018 shortly after Prof. Adeyeye assumed office as DG NAFDAC, N484, 956,344.43 was total debt owed staff for good manufacturing inspection travels for 2015 – 2017.
“Even though the debts were incurred before her appointment as DG, she directed that the debts be paid forthwith in 2018. That was the year she paid a total debt of N3.2 billion she inherited from her predecessor out of which N2, 141,016,305.07 was paid to the federal government in 2018 (FIRS) and N548,026,195.07 was paid to government as missed unpaid operating surpluses for 2015-2017.
He said, “Whatever the issues are, the management and the union would have to sit and discuss to arrive at a mutually beneficial position in the overall interest of our country.”
Akintola said that health workers belong to the essential service sector, hence the management will never treat any matter that affects NAFDAC staff welfare with kid gloves.
Speaking on the warning strike, which has paralyzed work at the agency, he said the DG considered it wrong for the union leaders to prevent senior management staff from gaining access to their offices.
Adeyeye urged the affected staff to continue to work from home pending the time the issues would be resolved.
She however assured the Agency’s clients that the strike would not affect the operations of NAFDAC in any way as most of its transactions are now automated.
At the peak of the COVID19 pandemic last year, staff of the Agency were working from home while only the senior management staff were physically present in the office.