Ripples as Ondo, Ekiti governments grapple with doctors, health workers’ protests

Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH). [PHOTO CREDIT: The Guardian Nigeria]
Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH). [PHOTO CREDIT: The Guardian Nigeria]

The industrial disharmony that has been creating disruptions in the Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH) since last week, has finally affected medical activities at the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital (UNIMED) in Ondo.

While the workers in EKSUTH are threatening a showdown with the state government over the sack of about 200 workers by the government and unpaid emoluments, their Ondo counterparts are already on a no-work mode because of three to six months unpaid salaries.

The Resident Doctors at UNIMED teaching hospital in Ondo and Akure began their indefinite strike on Friday and went ahead to stage a protest, calling for the payment of their salaries.

The striking doctors said they could no longer condone the non-payment of their wages by the state government.

They lamented that they were being owed between three and six month salaries depending on when they joined the service.

The strike had grounded activities at the hospitals both in Ondo town and the Akure, forcing patients to seek medical attention in private hospitals.

The Chairman, Media Committee, Association of Resident Doctors, UNIMED, Taiwo Olagbe, told journalists that the doctors were being owed between three and six month salaries “depending on when they joined the service of the hospital.”

He said several meetings with the state government had failed to resolve the problem and “so they had no choice but to go on strike.”

The doctors also accused the hospital’s management of doing a selective payment as thirty three out of over one hundred and fifty doctors who were paid one month salary recently.

They promised to return to work as soon as their salaries were paid.

Meanwhile the Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Wahab Adegbenro, said the government would begin to address the problem on Monday.

He explained that the protesting doctors were new employees whose appointment processes “were still being perfected”.

Mr Adegbenro denied that the strike action had affected medical operations in the hospitals, saying “patients were being attended to by other doctors not affected by the issue.”

Ado Ekiti

Meanwhile, in Ado Ekiti, the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), Ekiti Chapter, on Sunday backed down on their threats to go on a strike, after the state government tried to remedy the situation.

The resident doctors had planned a strike to commence on Monday, demanding that the sacked workers be reabsorbed promptly before Monday.

With some of the demands met and further discussions scheduled with the government, the workers said they had no choice but to shelve the planned strike.

The health union, in stating its reasons for shelving the strike, stated that the suspension “was to display respect for the state governor, Kayode Fayemi.”

After the expiration of the first ultimatum on Thursday, the union gave a three-day extension which expired at midnight on Sunday.

However, on Sunday afternoon, the Chairman of JOHESU, EKSUTH chapter, Omotola Farotimi, said the strike had been suspended following a resolution reached by labour and the management on Friday, January 10.

“We won’t be going on strike again,” she said. “On Friday, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Labour, Chief Yemi Esan, came to hold a meeting with us on behalf of the governor, with the management and we all came to a conclusion that everybody that was given letter would be given fair hearing by the time they would meet in February and they would give them their salary.

“Some of them had been reabsorbed and we are told they are to go back to their duty posts with immediate effect.

“They (government) have also agreed to meet all our agitations on welfare of members soon. We give the governor the regard for coming to our aid and for calling the meeting to hear us out.

“We are giving him that respect that is why we are suspending the strike hoping that the needful would be done.”

Terms

He also explained the terms of the agreement.

He said the agreement between the workers and the government stipulated that all the sacked workers “shall be given fair hearing by EKSUTH’s board’s appeal panel during its sitting in February.”

“It was also agreed that all the sacked workers working in critical sectors should return to their duty posts with immediate effect, with a promise that their re-absorption will be forwarded to the board for ratification.

“It was also resolved that all those with genuine cases will be redressed with all their salaries and allowances paid. And that no one would be made to be victim of witchhunt over the imbroglio in EKSUTH,” the official said.


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