Workers’ strike grounds Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Enugu

Health Minister, Isaac Adewole
Health Minister, Isaac Adewole

Activities at the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital in Enugu have been grounded following an industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) in the health facility.

The News Agency of Nigeria correspondent who monitored the development on Wednesday, reports that but for the few doctors and nurses on duty, the hospital was deserted, as the strike entered day 13.

Most patients at the hospital were withdrawn, except those that have nobody to take them home.

The Chairman of Medical and Health Workers Union at the hospital, Mathew Eze, said that the industrial action was necessitated by the arrears of salaries and allowances owed them.

He also said that the industrial action was also to protest the percentage salary and other illegal deductions from their salaries by the management of the institution.

Mr. Eze said that the facility which was the only neuropsychiatric hospital in the South-east had become a ghost of its former self due to poor management.

The union leader said that they had issued the management of the hospital a 21-day ultimatum to address their grievances to avert the strike.

“In that letter, we stated that any attempt to owe salaries to workers beyond December 2017 will be totally unacceptable to us.

“Sadly, by the time we received December 2017 salaries, we still noticed unwarranted withholding of part of our salaries.

“It is well known that the labour unions have fully exhausted all forms of peaceful negotiations with the management and other relevant offices,’’ he said.

Mr. Eze said that members of the union were subjected to harsh working environment while workers in other sister establishments were not suffering a similar fate.

The labour leader said it was sad that the facility had been allowed to crumble for lack of care and insensitivity to the welfare of workers.

He said that the management of the institution had taken advantage of their non-inclusion in the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) to punish them.

Mr. Eze said that part of the conditions to call off the strike was to pay all the illegal deductions made on their salaries from February 2017 and arrears of allowances from 2013.

“We also call for the immediate enrolment of our hospital into the IPPIS,’’ Eze said.

Also, the Secretary of National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives in the hospital, Eric Ugwu, said that the success of the strike was due to the level of decay in the facility.

Mr. Ugwu said that a situation where nurses and midwives work with torchlight at night in a psychiatric hospital was most demeaning.

“The level of decay in this hospital is the reason no one is coming to work due to the strike. The hospital has been without public source of power supply since 2014.

“Medical doctors no longer come to work at nights while nurses work with torchlight due to the prevailing circumstance,’’ Mr. Eze said.

Reacting, the Director of Administration in the hospital, Ndidi Igwenagu confirmed that medical workers had been on strike.

Mrs. Igwenagu, however, said that they do not grant interviews, as applications for an interview should be made to the Chief Medical Director, Jojo Onwukwe, who was unavailable.

Efforts to reach Mr. Onwukwe through his phone number proved abortive as he neither answered calls nor responded to text message sent to him.

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