New Twist In Ongoing Health Workers’ Strike
A VISIT by The Guardian to the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, and Gbagada General Hospital Lagos, last week revealed that patients who came for treatment were stranded as nobody attended to them.
A relative of a patient in Gbagada General Hospital, Ahmed Lukman said the family had decided to move their sick brother to another hospital because he had not enjoy proper care because of the strike.
Another patient at the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi, Lagos, Daudu Aina said his relations had concluded plans to take him to a traditional bonesetter in Agege area of Lagos, where they had been reassured of uninterrupted ‘medical’ service with cheap price.
Meanwhile, the ongoing strike by health workers, under the aegis of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), last week took a new twist when the striking workers gathered at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (LUTH) to protest the employment of casual workers by hospital management.
The workers in their large number marched peacefully around the hospital with placards carrying massages such as “No causality in LUTH, “FG correct injustice in Nigeria health sector” among others.
Acting Chairman, Non Academic Staff Union, LUTH branch, Mr. Akinruli Felix, said an agreement was reached with the federal government to promote workers from level 14 to level 15, but the government has failed to implement the agreement since 2009.
“We also had an agreement of adjustment of salary with federal government in 2013, a product of a court judgment, but government has not done anything to settle our members. Now, the casual workers want to take over our job, but we are saying let government answer us, then we can go back to our work,” he said.
Chairman, Senior Staff Association of University Teaching Hospital, Research Institute and Associated Institutions (SSAUTHRIAI) LUTH branch and Lagos State Vice Chairman JOHESU Comrade Adegoke Kehinde, said the rally was organised because certain move had been made to intimidate their members through employing contract staff to take job of striking workers.
“All we are saying is, the agreement was voluntarily signed between the federal government and JOHESU. Circulars should be released to implement the agreements. We would not fold our arms for anything to happen to the jobs of our members. This struggle must continue until there is a logical conclusion.
“We demand 65 years retirement age for our members and there is no reason anybody should deny us good condition of service,” he said.
Also, Association of Resident Doctor, Lagos University Teaching Hospital has called on the federal government to pay its members December 2014 and January 2015 salaries.
The body stated that, though the striking health workers had locked up hospital equipment, denying doctors access to the equipment, members of the association are always at their duty post and ready to work.
The Vice President of the association Dr. Omodara Olaniran, said that with the Joint Health Sector Union’s (JOHESU) strike entering its third months, its members had been mobilised and charged to redouble their efforts to ensure minimal disruption of services.
“Most of our members go to the clinics and ward with personal equipment, despite striking workers have locked up equipment provided by the hospital management. While we are not advocating for the conferment of national honours on our members for their patriotic efforts so far, they are certainly undeserving of the treatment being meted to them. As at today, our members have not received the December 2014 and January 2015 salaries.
“Our members celebrated the Christmas and the New Year without salary. Many cannot even afford transport fare to work. Those preparing for their postgraduate exams have not been able to pay the examinations fees.
“It is an unthinkable paradox that while LUTH doctors are bending backward to cater for the populace, the striking workers have been receiving their salaries promptly in the last three months.
“This is besides some new members have not been paid for about five to six months now, while some others have not collected their upgrade and update allowances for over a year now.
“The only information we got was that our entitlement is with the Accountant General of the Federation.”