By Simon Ebegbulem
BENIN CITY â€” THE on- going strike embarked upon by medical health workers of teaching hospitals across the country has paralysed activities at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), as hundreds of patients were discharged yesterday due to absence of nurses and other health workers.
Vanguard observed that all the gates leading to the hospital were under lock, while emergency patients were turned back, causing panic among families whose relations are critically ill in the hospital, which serves the entire six states of the South-South.
It was observed also that the striking workers shut down the accident and emergency wards, the general practice clinic, the various theatres and other departments in the hospital.
Addressing newsmen yesterday, the Chairman of the hospitalâ€™s branch of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), Comrade Egharevba Jacob, who spoke alongside the Chairman of the National Association of Nurses and Midwives, Comrade Oyemielen Francis, and his Medical Health Workers Union counterpart, Comrade Osuohien Obakpolo, vowed to continue with the strike until the federal government meets their demands.
They blamed the government for the strike and its impact on the society since the federal government had failed to heed to their demands for over two years now.
He explained that the workers were on strike to call governmentâ€™s attention to the lingering issue of the non-payment of 24 months arrears of monetization owed medical health workers in the country, adding that workers in the health sector were also aggrieved by the decision of the government to demote some of their members who had got to CONTISS 10 and above by a grade level.
According to him, the membership of the various workers making up the public health sector are also not happy with what it described as the curious decision of the government to embark on the unacceptable demotion of staff and attendant reduction of their salaries.
â€œSo we are calling on our people not to be intimidated and no body can blackmail us. We will continue this strike until our demands are met. Government is just being insensitive to our demands because we have refused to act all these while.
â€œWhat the government is doing is very unfair and we are prepared to fight onâ€ he asserted.