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Hope of ending the industrial action embarked upon by health workers at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, University of Uyo Teaching hospital branch of the Association of Resident Doctors and health workers at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Yenagoa, Bayelsa State dimmed yesterday as the unions vowed to continue with the strike. At LUTH, the nurses and midwives under the aegis of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) yesterday said the indefinite strike was to press home their demands.
They also said the protest was against what they called stagnation, non-payment of salary and inadequate facilities. The state Chairman of NANNM, Mr. Olurotimi Awojide, told journalists in Lagos that the association had given the management a seven-day ultimatum which expired on June 9. Other demands are the outstanding 2015 promotion results of 71 nurses, non-payment of nurses employed in 2015, lack of consumables, inadequate manpower and irregular water and power supply.
He said: “We have been having series of problems with LUTH management for a while now which we have made effort to resolve but all to no avail. We have written series of letters to them on pressing issues, they are not responding and that is why we are taking this action. “For quite some time now nurses work at night without light, leaving them with no choice of using torchlight and phones to attend to patients. “This is a teaching hospital and infection control should be our priority and when there are no consumables, water, people impro-vise to attend to patients.”
The Chairman of NANNM, LUTH chapter, Mrs. Oluyemisi Adelaja, said inadequate equipment had affected the nurses’ care for patients in the hospital. Adelaja said the strike was meant to call on the management and the Federal Ministry of Health to apply the same measures in LUTH as being done in other 52 federal health institutions. “We want them to do the needful by giving our members their promotion as and when due and applying the same measures being applied to other health institutions to us.”
Contacted, the Public Relations Officer of LUTH, Mr. Kelechi Otuneme, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the management had not reacted yet on the development. NAN also reports that few nurses were seen attending to some patients, while others joined the protest. At UNIUYO, the doctors said they were embarking on the strike to protest against “incomplete salaries.” President of the association, Dr. Christian Adeneye, said in an interview with NAN in Uyo yesterday, that the doctors in the hospital had been receiving incomplete salaries since 2014, saying all efforts to make government see reason on the mater had failed.
“We are embarking on an indefinite strike from today. The problem is about the incomplete salaries that we have been receiving for two years now. “We have been mandated nationally that all centres that are yet to comply with the implementation of the payment of our full salaries should embark on an indefinite strike.” He said that the strike had not been postponed as was speculated by a section of the media.
The unionist confirmed, however, that there was a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, where it was agreed that medical centres that were already enjoying full salaries should not join the strike.
The president said the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital was not in the list of teaching hospitals enjoying full salaries, so doctors there had to embark on strike. Meanwhile, moves to resolve the ongoing strike by health workers at the FMC Yenagoa dimmed yesterday as a meeting between labour leaders and the hospital’s management ended in a stalemate. The National Union of Allied Health Professionals (NUAHP) FMC Yenagoa chapter had on May 11commenced an indefinite strike over pay cuts in the salaries of staff at the hospital since January. The strike had paralysed the out-patients and laboratory services as well as the physiotherapy, radiotherapy and records departments of the hospital since May 11. It was gathered that a meeting with the management team led by the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Dr. Dennis Allagoa, ended in a stalemate as the workers representatives staged a walk out. Chairman of NUAHP, Mr. Oginike Lante, said the labour leaders walked out of the meeting in disappointment following the hard stance posture of management which did not meeting the minimum expectation of workers.
“There was nothing new that management offered apart from the promises we have been hearing since January, and the threat that we should accept the promise ‘now or never’ and that was unacceptable to workers,” Lante said.He said they were compelled to commence the indefinite strike after giving the mandatory 28 notice following many unfulfilled promises and vowed that workers will not to return to work until they get full salaries and arrears.
However, Allagoa in a reaction explained that the problem was as a result of budgetary shortfall in the hospital, noting that the health workers were being paid 53.7 percent of their salaries with available funds. Sources at the hospital had disclosed that out of about N 240 million wage bill of the hospital, it received less than N180 million.
Allagoa said the hospital management had informed the Federal Ministry of Health of the development and remained hopeful that the issue will be resolved soon. “From January this year, we saw that our budget was N173 million and that amount was insufficient to pay both for new employment and the old ones.
We reached out to the government and they asked us to pay whatever we have. “They promised that they will give us a supplementary budget, and the striking workers can verify this. Therefore, the money came to 53.7 per cent,” he said.
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