Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
Patients at the Federal Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (FETHA) in Ebonyi State, have been having a rough patch as members of the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) temporarily abandoned their duty posts and proceeded on protests in the two phases of the hospital.
The health workers’ protest, proposed to hold for three days across in federal hospitals in the country, is being staged to register their displeasure over the alleged non-implementation of the 7-point agreement they reached with the Federal government in 2017.
The protesters bearing placards with various inscriptions converged on the two phases of the hospital where their leaders addressed them after which they prayed for God’s intervention on their fate.
State Chairman of the Nigerian Union of Allied Health Practitioners, Obiefuna Okeke, while addressing the protesters regretted that the ministers of Health and Labour and Productivity, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Dr Chris Ngige respectively, failed to honour the agreement they signed with the union in 2017.
Okeke said: “The union is protesting the whimsical attitude of the Minister of Health; and the Minister of Labour by extension who signed an agreement with our unions in 2017 but never had the spirit to implement them.
“Essentially, the issues in contention are the upward review of CONHESS which was not resolved at the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR); the issue of non-promotion of members to the position of directors as and at when due; the unjust withholding of the April and May 2018 salaries of our members among others,” he added.
Also speaking, the Chairman of Medical and Health Workers Union in the state, Eze Emmanuel, said that contrary to insinuations in some quarters, they were not demanding to be paid equally with doctors but a fair remuneration.
“The workers are demanding what belongs to them. We are not eyeing doctors’ salary but there are things that belong to us. One of the two key issues why this protest is being held is because two months workers’ salaries were withheld because they embarked on a strike which is their constitutional right,” said he.
The National Financial Secretary of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Nnachi Michael, however said that the protest was not a strike action as the workers would return to their duty posts afterwards.