Choas, As Thugs Unleash Terror On Protesting Health Workers
• We Never Sent Thugs To Attack Workers, Says CMD
A protest by striking workers of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu, on Friday, over their unpaid entitlements, ended in chaos as armed thugs allegedly hired by a member ofmanagement unleashed terror on them.
The thugs numbering over ten and brandishing cutlasses and axes arrived the gate of the hospital and kicking and hitting the workers, thereby disrupting the peaceful protest which had started early in the morning.
Chairman of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHOSU), Mr Alozie Ejimmadu, who led the protest received a head cut and was rushed to the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) where doctors were administering treatment on him as at press time.
Trouble started when the protesting workers, who yesterday declared an indefinite strike action over alleged management’s inability to address arrears of their allowances, promotions and other benefits, converged at the gate of the hospital to protest the development.
The placards carrying workers numbering over hundred were singing and chanting solidarity songs demeaning the office of the Chief Medical Director of the hospital Jojo Onwukwe, when the thugs invaded them.
Though a team of policemen led by the Area Commander, Abakpa, Mark Igwe and operatives from the Department of State Security Service (DSS) were on hand to maintain peace, their effort could not save the workers from the hands of the thugs.
Their ordeal was compounded by the arrival of the Divisional Police 0fficer at New Haven, Enugu, who joined the armed thugs in dispersing the protesting workers after releasing bullets in the air.
Chairman of the State Joint Trade Union, Enugu State, Comrade Mathias Okonkwo, who was at the scene, deplored the action of the management of the hospital, saying that leaders of workers union in the state had tried to ensure that matter did not degenerate to no avail.
“The management of this hospital has been intimidating and victimizing labour leaders because they told them to pay their entitlements and allowances.
There is no promotion for the past three years, no increments. They listed fourteen issues for the management to implement.
They now gave the management 21 days ultimatum, which failed and after which they gave another seven days, which expired yesterday.
Now they invited us and instead of the management listening to them, they started using thugs to attack the workers”, Okonkwo said.
When contacted, the hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Jojo Onwukwe said he had met all the demands by the workers, adding however that some members of the labour union chose to disrupt the peace at the hospital. He however denied bringing thugs to disrupt the protest.
Onwukwe, who was out of Enugu, wondered why certain members of the workers union could declare indefinite strike as well as prevent those, who have arrived for duties from gaining entry into their offices. He added that the situation had been brought under control, assuring patients that management would do all in its power to protect them.
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