Workers begin warning strike at LAUTECH Teaching Hospital

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Yinka ADETUNJI

Members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Teaching Hospital Ogbomoso chapter have begun a 10-day warning strike to demand certain agitations they made be resolved.
The warning strike which commenced on Friday March 11, has been taking its toll on the institution as several patients are stranded with many returning home disappointed.
JOHESU comprising members of the National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives (NANNM), Nigerian Union of Allied Health Professional (NUAHP), Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) and Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU), through its spokesperson, Comrade Oluwafunmilayo Ojebode, who is the chairperson of NUAHP, revealed they made a four-point demand, which however was not met by the management hence the decision to embark on the warning strike.
Speaking with ogbomosoinsigtonline.com in the presence of other union leaders i.e. Comrade Olukemi Ogudipe (NANNM), Comrade Oladoja Olubayo (MHWUN) and Comrade Olobaniyi David, Comrade Ojebode noted they had four grievances which they had been agitating for, for a long time without redress, submitting this was the basis for the industrial disharmony at the institution.
According to her the grievances bordered on non-payment of arrears of certain categories of workers, promotions effected without the requisite financial benefits and non-inclusion of names of certain workers who were redeployed but later returned, in the payroll of the hospital.
Ojebode stressed that these were the issues that had driven JOHESU to declare the industrial action following several ultimatums which were rebuffed by the management.
Throwing light on the matter Ojebode explained, “There are categories of people that are being owed; these are once disengaged staff, they were disengaged during the tenure of late Governor Abiola Ajimobi and when His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde came around, they were reengaged and they started work in March 2020 but in the first five months they were not paid any salaries.
“Then, another category was reabsorbed, and for eight months too they were not paid any salaries, which led to agitations for the payment of the salaries owed them, the agitation has been on since 2020 but up till now they have not been paid the arrears of the salaries, so, some are owed five months and some eight months.
“The second agitation is that some staff members were restructured out of this place but then His Excellency Governor Seyi Makinde brought them back. And Governor Makinde directed that their salaries be returned to this place. What we discovered however is that they were only returned, their salaries are not being paid here and this led to agitation since April 2021 as they still receive their salaries from where they were restructured to, which has caused disparity.
“The third one is the issue of promotion. We discovered that our counterparts in the state were promoted both nominally and financially but our promotion here is the other way round. We are being promoted nominally, with no financial benefits and no specifications. And that is to say we may not get it if we don’t speak out.
“The fourth issue is that the promotion was not done as it should be done. We observed some anomalies associated with the promotion, a lot of disparities which we demanded should be corrected but to no avail.”
The union leader added that their fifth agitation had to do with adequate funding of the institution stressing, “an hospital of this magnitude demands that the government put all at stake, this is not a primary healthcare centre, this is not a secondary healthcare centre, this is a tertiary health institution and we believe that at this stage of the hospital we still need adequate funding.
“So, we are appealing to the government to see to this so that the hospital can continue to serve its purpose adequately. It is grossly underfunded. In fact, all the agitations boil down to adequate funding, we believe if the hospital is well funded, some of these agitations may not necessarily come up. There are some equipment we believe that if they are on ground they will help to generate revenues but they are still uncoupled and uninstalled.
“Then, we also believe that if our outreach centre in Oyo is brought to life it will increase our catchment area and it will promote the image of the hospital. Then, there is a dam that should be functioning (Eku Dam) but it is abandoned. If it is put to use we believe it will help the hospital. So, we are pleading with the government even though we understand that the economy of the state may not be buoyant, we still believe something can be done for us and we will continue to contribute our own quota to helping the citizens of the state to be in good health.”
Asked if they had reached out to the management of the hospital, she answered in the affirmative. “Yes, before we embarked on this strike we actually put a kind of warning across to the management. We told them if it was not resolved by January we won’t be able to guarantee industrial peace. We wrote them but there was no satisfactory response, then, we gave a 21-day ultimatum and when that elapsed we gave another 7-day ultimatum, so, at the expiration of that ultimatum we started the warning strike on Friday. It is a 10-day warning strike and if our agitations aren’t resolved we will embark on indefinite strike.”
She however regretted the development asserting that the institution had been witnessing increased patronage, which she said may suffer with the strike. She said, “In the past three years since the assumption of office of Governor Seyi Makinde, the hospital has run without any form of industrial action, and that has made our patronage to increase. The turnover is increasing, our MRI is functioning, people are coming from all nooks and crannies of the country, patronage from everywhere, general outpatient, consultant outpatient.”
She remarked that JOHESU is an understanding union, “we don’t even join national strikes but it seems some things meant for us are not being given needed attention.”
Meanwhile, reacting, the PRO of the hospital, Mr. Omotayo Ogunleye, in a telephone interview with ogbomosoinsightonline.com, explained that he was aware of the five months’ salary arrears but not of the eight months’ salary arrears.
He added, “I think the management had met with JOHESU in respect of the five months’ salary arrears and they have been told it’s not convenient for the management to pay that money but I think the union is not on the same page with the management on how the money will be paid, that is the problem.”
On the issue of funding, Ogunleye simply said, “I may not be able to comment on that, and that is not part of the issues presented to the management and so, I may not be able to comment on that,”
In connection with promotion he noted that the government had not added to the subvention to be able to allow for the payment “and until the government adds to what is being given, the management is handicapped. Like I said the hospital does not have the money to pay for the promotion and until government comes to the aid of the hospital the management may not be able to pay for this promotion,” he insisted.
On the issue of workers redeployed but later reinstated in the hospital he assured government had made plans to start paying them at LAUTECH from the month of March.
Ogunleye encouraged the union to meet with the management to ensure the whole issue is resolved amicably.

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