By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU— Patients at the National Orthopedic Hospital, Enugu have been left untreated as the indefinite strike embarked upon by workers of the hospital entered Day 5.
Chairman/spokesman of the hospital’s Joint Action Committee of Trade Unions, JACTU, Comrade Cyprian Orjinta, said the management of the hospital had been making overtures to meet with the labour leaders of the hospital which he disclosed has been scheduled for today.
Orjinta said the union had given the management of the hospital 35 days notice before embarking on the strike last Thursday, adding that the management, however, chose to ignore the union and failed to reply to their letter until they paralyzed activities in the hospital.
Subsequently, the workers embarked on peaceful protest around the premises of the hospital, demanding, among other things, that the management upgrade collapsing infrastructure and working tools in the hospital.
In a statement during the protest, the workers said they want to draw the attention of the people of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari to what they said was “institutionalized oppression and subjugation of the entire workers of the hospital.”
Managing Director of the hospital, Dr. Cajethan Nwadigwe, however, failed to respond to the allegations, despite several calls and text messages to his phone line.
Other alleged management’s repressions on staff include stagnation of staff after promotions, persistent shortfall in personnel allocation and backlog of salary arrears and arrears of promotion.
Part of the protesting staff statement reads: “Basic protective tools such as hand gloves, face masks and scrubs have become luxury, leaving our workers to attend to patients with bare hands. This exposes both our workers and the patients to health hazards.
“We observed shortly after the 2016 promotion exercise that all our workers who were promoted from CONHESS II and above were not advanced to the next salary grade. We also noted the steady decline in funds released to the hospital for payment of staff salaries in recent years. It has become a tradition that National Orthopedic Hospital Enugu cannot pay salaries of workers for 12 months in a year.
“Most of our staff are also owed several months of salary arrears. Promotion arrears of 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016 remain outstanding till this moment.
“We therefore appeal to members of the public to prevail on the management of the hospital to address the grievances of workers and save the suffering patients the agony of this strike action.”