Medical activities at the wards of public hospitals in Delta State have crippled following the strike embarked upon by nurses and midwives in the state.

The action which entered the third day on Sunday came after the expiration of a 14-day ultimatum given the Delta State government to address the issue of career progression in the civil service as it affects them and the acute shortage of nurses and midwives in public hospitals.

The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) in the state said in a statement that the decision to embark on the strike was sequel to the resolutions adopted by the State Executive Council (SEC)-in-session during an emergency meeting held recently.

A quarterly meeting of zonal and unit heads of nurses and midwives held last week also endorsed the strike action.

The health workers are protesting the alleged elevation of a junior officer to the position of Director of Nursing Services (DNS) in the ministry of health instead of allowing the next officer in rank assume the position when the immediate past DNS retired.

Chairman of NANNM in the state, Mrs Alice Ikpen Jegede said the action of the state government to elevate the officer from her abysmal 30th position on the ladder of hierarchy was an abuse and violation of the Civil Service Rules and Scheme of Service as it relates to the career progression of nurses and midwives in the state.

The association maintained that skeletal services will not be provided while the strike lasts, adding that the action will not be called off until all their demands are met.

Three officers of the association, Tribune Online gathered were earlier arrested in Warri immediately the strike started by security operatives and whisked to Asaba last Friday. They were released later the same day.

The association leadership said the intimidation of its members would not in any way deter them from the strike action.

Meanwhile, the State Government has called on the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives to call off the state-wide indefinite strike action it embarked on with effect from 12 midnight of December 3, 2020.

Commissioner for Health, Dr. Mordi Ononye said this in Asaba in a swift reaction to the strike action embarked on by the nurses over some demands made by the association.

Dr. Ononye expressed dismay that the association could call on their members to embark on an indefinite strike just a day after the fruitful tripartite meeting in Asaba comprising the commissioner for health; chairman, Nigeria Labour Congress, Delta State and the association’s executive.

He said the meeting which held on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 was convened by him as a follow-up to previous meetings he had held with officials of the association to resolve the issues they raised in their notice of industrial action.

According to the commissioner, it was agreed at the meeting that the intended strike action should be suspended until further notice to enable all stakeholders to meet again after the committee set up to determine the seniority of nurses in the state has submitted its report.

He said the committee which was to use cadre of the nurses and nominal roll as criteria for determining the seniority of nurses in the state was given until January 31, 2021 to submit their report with a representative of the association as a member of the committee.

Issues tabled and exhaustively discussed at the meeting included a selection of Director of Nursing Services in the Ministry; lateral transfer of 31 nurses/midwives from the State Hospital Management Board to the State Ministry of Health; accurate nominal roll and seniority list of nurses and midwives in the state, posting of principals of Schools of Nursing and Midwifery and employment of nurses into the service.

The commissioner, therefore, expressed worry that the association has a hidden agenda against the government, as all participants at the meeting left with the belief and understanding that the proposed strike action would be suspended until the meeting is reconvened after the submission of the report by the committee set up on the seniority list.