By Victor Ahiuma-Young
A LEADING fruit juice and other consumables, manufacturing company, Chi Limited, is presently at loggerheadsÂ with an ex-staff of the company, Mr. Taiwo Oyelami, over the treatment of his left ear that requires surgery as a result of injuries sustained in an industrial accident in the course of his work. While Chi LimitedÂ claimsÂ that Mr. Oyelami,Â absconded from treatment and that the companyâ€™s retainer hospital is waiting for him for treatment, Mr. Oyelami on his part, is alleging that Chi Limited abandoned him.
Labour Vanguard in this piece, presents to readers both sides of the story
My case with Chi limitedâ€“ Oyelami
Mr. Oyelami, according to a petition and an interview with Labour Vanguard, worked for Chi limited asÂ Disk Jockey (DJ) attached to the events department, for just over three months before the industrial accidentÂ thatÂ his leftÂ ear badly disfigured apart from other injuries.
He lamented thatÂ Â even when the treatment of his injury was not completed, he was sacked in a most indecent manner and interventions by his family members and Campaign for Democratic and Workersâ€™ Rights (CDWR), for completion of his treatment and compensation yielded no positive result.
According to him: â€œOn December 29 2008, I and four others were instructedÂ Â to bring down a big board by my boss, Mr. Modestus Igomu. We were not told that the board was very heavy. As we attempted to bring it down, the fourÂ other workers who were awareÂ that the board was very heavy since they were taller, quickly moved away leaving only me beneath the board and it came crashing on me. I lost consciousness and only gained it after I was hospitalized at the Good Seed Hospital. In the process I had sustained multiple injuries. I had injury on my head, neck, chest and right leg. More devastating however was the injury that has left my left ear badly disfigured.
To be fair to Chi Limited, there was an attempt to give me better treatment at the initial stageÂ and that explained why I was moved to another hospital (Mucas Hospital), only for us to discover later that it was not meant to complete the treatment. After the treatment of other injuries (except for the ear) was concluded and the treatmentÂ I got at the General Hospital Ikeja, I have been abandoned. The Medical Director of Mucas Hospital has since July 2009 submitted a proposal and costing for the surgery on my bad ear that amounts to about N600, 000 to Chi Limited, yet the management has refused to pay for theÂ the surgery.â€
â€œDespite the intervention by officers of the Campaign for Democratic and Workersâ€™ Rights (CDWR), Chi Limited have refused to pay forÂ the surgery and pay compensation. As a result of the insistence of my family and CDWR that Chi Limited should complete the treatment that would restore me to my state of health pre-December 29 2008 accident, the management sacked me.Â I was locked-out on April 14 2009. Instruction was left with the security to stop me at the gate and the same instruction was boldly posted round the compound as if I had committed a crime.â€
Mr. Oyelami added: â€œI have been disfigured and abandoned by Chi Limited. I am appealing to the general public, Nigeria Labour CongressÂ and Minister for Labour and Productivity,Â to come to my aid. My demand has always been for the surgery to be carried out and compensation paid.â€
Oyelami abandoned treatmentâ€“ Management
Reacting to Mr. Oyelamiâ€™s claims, the management of Chi Limited through its Head of Human Resources Department, Dr. Ayo Iyiola, dismissed the ex-staff claims and insisted that Mr. Oyelami, was just being economical with words because he abandonedÂ his treatment at the companyâ€™s retainer hospital,Â Mucas Hospital.
Besides that, he accused Mr. Oyelami of not only resorting to self medication and bringing outrageous medical bills to the company, some which were paid, but became very unruly, insulting, disrespectful and abusive to both his senior and fellow workers which necessitated his sack.
Documents by Chi to buttress its position
The following areÂ some of the documents Dr. Iyiola, presentedÂ to back up the companyâ€™s claims;
First was a letter from Chi Limitedâ€™s management to Mucas Hospital dated April 14, 2009, seeking to clarify allegedÂ complaint of unsatisfactory medical attention and the letter read thus: â€œRe: medical status of Taiwo Oyelamiâ€, Please, find attached a copy of an alleged unsatisfactory medical attention of the above named patient of yours as detailed.
This, he said culminated in him procuring some drugs for his treatment (see attachment for your medical authentication). Management therefore seeks to know your reaction and advice vis-a-vis the attached letter, and the needed follow-up treatment at LASUTH. Awaiting your response, please.
In his response, the Medical Director of Mucas Hospital, Dr. M.O Salako in a letter dated April 21, 2009, said, your letter on alleged unsatisfactory medical attention of Mr. Taiwo Oyelami refers. We took over the treatment of Taiwo Oyelami on the 9th of January 2009 after an initial management at the Good seed specialist clinic. He presented with: Sutured laceration of the left ear lobe; the severed segment already gangrenous and therefore unviable. Chest pains, Left shoulder pain, Bilateral lower limbs pain.
The wound on the left ear was dressed surgically and is now healed, awaiting the use of appropriate prosthesis. Efforts to reach Mr. Taiwo Oyelami for prosthesis appointment in the last three weeks failed. The area of pains on chest and shoulder were examined and investigated with X-ray. The X-rays showed no bony injuries (result attached).
He was treated with diclofenac and multi vitamins. At a stage we discovered that Mr. Oyelami had developed hypochondriasis (an excessive anxiety about oneâ€™s health). He was counselled accordingly, but instead he resorted to denigrating our treatment. It is, therefore, not surprising that he obtained advice and recommendations from quacks as can be seen from prescription attached to your letter. The drugs in the prescription are food supplements and of no proven therapeutic- value for his ailments.
I cannotÂ therefore, endorse or approve the drugs purchased by Mr. Taiwo Oyelami. The cash invoice for the so-called prescriptions are fraudulently filled to be able to come to an outrageous total amount. I leave it to your management to investigate and take action accordingly. Our experience with Taiwo Oyelami shows that he is inclined to exploit his injuries for immoral extortions from the company. Finally, please note that solid arrangement had been made with an expert on prosthesis to provide artificial ear for the amputated left ear when Mr. Oyelami is ready.â€
Also,Â a letter by the Medical Director of Mucas Hospital, Dr. M.O Salako, to the Managing Director of Chi Ltd, dated July 5th, 2009, titled â€œRe: Mr. Taiwo Oyelami medical updateâ€, he wrote, â€œYour above named member of staff is still on out patient medical follow up treatments. The next stage of his management is plastic surgery for his amputated left ear lobe (Pinna).The surgery is not life saving, and therefore, it can be done at the most appropriate time. Meanwhile, Mr. Taiwo Oyelami is physically fit to work while awaiting surgery. The stages involved in the pinna (Ear lobe) reconstruction and surgeonâ€™s professional fees are as follows:1. Insertion of prosthesis =N150,000, Raising of skill flapÂ =N150,000, Final adjustment =N100,000, Cost of prosthesis =N150,000, Anaesthesia/anaesthetist fee for 3 operations = N300,000. The fees for 3Â operations are exclusive of two months hospital admission, drugs, nursing care, feeding, basic laboratory investigations and other ancillary services that may arise while in hospital. We shall need a deposit of Six hundred thousand naira (N600,000) to buy the prosthesis, and pay the surgical/ anaesthetist team per every stage of the operation..â€
Reacting toÂ the claim of management that heÂ abandonmed treatment,Â OyelamiÂ deniedÂ Â the chargesÂ insisting that his former employerÂ had till today refused to pay or deposit part of money required for the surgery since the Mucas Hospital sent the bill to it on July 5, 2009.