BY RAPHAEL ONYEKACHUKWU, ENUGU – There seems no end in sight to the lingering labour crisis between the Joint Health Workers Union (JHWU) of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu and the management with both sides yet to shift grounds over contending issues in their dispute.
The stalemate witnessed at Tuesday’s meeting extended the on-going strike already lingering for over a week, thus paralyzing medical activities at the hospital which services the South-East and South-South regions.
Leader of JHWU in the hospital, Comrade Cyprian Orjinta, who told Forefront in Enugu that no issue was resolved at the meeting that lasted over three hours, said contrary to insinuations of blackmail by the management, the Union’s demands centre around improved workers’ welfare, better work environment and general equipment upgrade for effective service delivery to the public
Orjinta however praised well-meaning Nigerians and the media for compelling the hospital’s management to dialogue with the union towards resolving the issues at stake.
Our correspondent reports that aside security personnel seen around the hospital’s vicinity, virtually all departments are currently under lock and key with only the out-patients’ ward witnessing some semblance of activities. In one of such wards, a prayer session was seen going on with participants, mostly patients and their relations seeking God’s intervention to resolve the crisis.
Reacting to the strike, Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Cajethan Nwadinigwe disagreed with the workers’ position, insisting that the joint meeting and deliberations thereof were smooth and encouraging.
Nwadinigwe, who refused to give details of the meeting immediately, told Forefront that, “I cannot talk to you now; since I need to sit down with you and lay out the issue with fact and figures in a relax mood and not now since I have other meetings to attend to.’’
The Union is agitated that its members in the hospital have been placed on half salaries since the beginning of 2017, just as it also expressed anger that the staff’s October 2016 salaries were still outstanding compared to their colleagues at National Orthopaedic Hospitals in Lagos and Kano who are not exposed to the disturbing salary payment issues.
The Union further disclosed that the monetary increment, based on CONHESS’ placement and promotion, due to their members was yet to be paid or implemented after many years.