100% Salary Pay: Hospital Workers Set For Strike

100% Salary Pay: Hospital Workers Set For Strike

-Describe 70% payment as injustice and marginalization

-Asks Governor Uzodinma to restore their salary to 100%

-Pay balance of January 2020 Salary based on 100% salary structure.

Workers of the Imo State Specialist hospital, Umuguma, may soon embark on strike, following the inability of the State government to address the issue of 100% salary structure they have been demanding.

Workers of the hospital, who embarked on partial withdrawal of service from 8am-2pm two weeks ago after staging a protest that grounded economic activities in Owerri, are warming up for a total strike since the governor Hope Uzodinma-led administration is yet to see reasons to pay them the 100% salary.

A dependable source from the hospital who condemned the action of the government in strongest terms, said that the workers would not suspend the strike until their demands are met, saying that the strike will commence as soon as possible.

However, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee (JAC), Imo Sate Specialist Hospital, Owerri, Dr. Anumudu Elias, while addressing newsmen during the protest, recently, said that it was the height of injustice, as workers of the hospital where only workers in the state that are yet to get 100% salary, saying that the protest will continue  until they receive 100% Salary.

His words, “we are talking about implementation of 100% salary structure. As long as the payment has not been effected, we will continue to protest.

“We are talking of the immediate implementation of the January salary which was based on 70% salary. The 70% we are talking about is the 70% salary structure before the promotion. The salary we are currently earning is lower than the salary we were earning in 2012. It is an injustice. That is why we are protesting, and we will continue to protest until they attend to our needs. We don’t see the reason they should pay us lower than others”.

Adding her voice, Mrs. Echendu Justina, Chief Nursing Officer, Theatre Department, who said that she was surprised over the treatment being meted out on them by Government, asked the Governor Uzodinma to pay them as soon as possible.

However, the Joint Action Committee, in a letter to the Governor of Imo State, Senator Hope Uzodinma captioned, “Restoration of Our Salary to 100%”, read, “In 2014, all workers in Imo State were promoted with effective financial date being 1st of May 2018. Imo State Specialist Hospital Workers were duly promoted and Gen. 35 issued to each worker accordingly as applicable to our counterparts in Imo State University Teaching Hospital, (IMSUTH) Orlu, Local Government Health Workers and Ministry of Health, Imo State.

“However, payment of salaries based on the promotion commenced, but we were excluded. Consequently, in June 2019, there was a restoration of salary to 100% for all Imo workers. Again, we were excluded as the 70% payment continues without any reason. In other words, we were paid 70% of our old salary grade levels. In September 2019, we protested/demonstrated against the injustice, discrimination and marginalization. We demanded for our 100% salary. After negotiations, it was agreed that our 100% salary will be restored as soon as possible alongside that of Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu since they had a similar case.

“Consequently, in December, 2019, the 100% salary structure was fully restored in IMSUTH and promotions paid, but excluding Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri, despite our excellent performance and quality of service delivery in the face of severe shortchange of manpower and equipment. We were again assured that ours will be corrected in January 2020, unfortunately, we were still paid 70% of our old salary grade level. Thus, we reject this unfair treatment and gross injustice”.

They however asked the governor to restore their salary to 100% as applicable to their counterparts or colleagues at IMSUTH, Ministry of Health and Local Government Areas, and also pay the balance of their January 2020 salary based on 100% salary structure and their current levels with reference to promotion exercise of May 2018.

Condemning Marginalization Of Imo Specialist Hospital Workers

Staff of the Imo State Specialist Hospital,Umuguma, for the past eight months have complained of the ill-treatments being meted out on them by the government of Imo State. The unusual treatment, according to them, bothers on the inability of the State government to pay them 100% of their salary, as they stand to be the only workers that still receive 70% salary in the State.

Actually, the former governor of Imo State, OwelleRochasOkorocha, some two years ago, introduced the 70% payment as a way of cushioning the effect of the economic harsh weather the Country faced then. Imo workers suffered this until Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha came on board as the governor of Imo State.

The new government, in order to alleviate the suffering of its workers, bounced back to the 100% payment. It is important to note that all the Ministries, parastatals and agencies in the state receive the 100% salary except the workers of the hospital. This did not go down well with the workers, who wondered why the state government, after seeing their commitments and sufferings should treat them that way.

As law-abiding citizens who believe in dialogue, they wrote letters to the government, seeking for a redress. When they discovered that the method did not yield any fruit, as the government continued to pay them 70% salary, they staged a peaceful demonstration on major roads and streets of Owerri, asking the government to treat them the way others were treated. That was around September, 2019. The Rt. Hon. EmekaIhedioha, led administration promised them implementation but failed to fulfill the promise before his removal by the Supreme Court. The assurance that it would be corrected in January, 2020, also did not work as they were given 70% of their old salary grade levels. This, from all indication, led to the on-going protest that has lasted for more than one week. Activities have been paralysed in the hospital due to the protest that resulted to partial withdrawal of service from 8am-2pm, meaning that no patient receives treatment between the hours of 8am and 2pm in the hospital since that day. It has been observed that the aggrieved workers are determined to continue the protest until their demands are met.

While addressing newsmen during the protest, the Chairman, Joint Action Committee (JAC), Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri Dr. Anumudu Elias, described the action of the government as the height of injustice, as the workers of the hospital were the only workers in the state that are yet to get 100% salary, saying that the protest will continue until they receive their 100% salary structure.

His words, “we are talking about implementation of 100% salary structure. As long as the payment has not been effected, we will continue to protest.

“We are talking of the immediate implementation of the January salary which was based on 70% salary. The 70% we are talking about is the 70% salary structure before the promotion. The salary we are currently earning is lower than the salary we were earning in 2012. It is an injustice. That is why we are protesting, and we will continue to protest until they attend to our needs. We don’t see the reason they should pay us lower than others”.

The position of the workers of the hospital is understandable. It appears the government and its agents do not appreciate the good service they are rendering to the people. They seem to be insensitive to the plight of the workers of the hospital.  It is a truism, that the workers have applied every possible means to address the problem, but the government refused to shift grounds. It continues to make empty promises to the workers who risk their lives for the good of the people.

It was observed that the Joint Action Committee, in order to give the problem a decent burial, wrote a letter to the governor of the state, distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma. The letter which bears the caption, “Restoration of our salary to 100%”, read, “In 2014, all workers in Imo State were promoted with effective financial date being 1st of May 2018. Imo State Specialist Hospital workers were duly promoted and Gen. 35 issued to each worker accordingly as applicable to our counterparts in Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu, Local Government Health Workers and Ministry of Health, Imo State.

“However, payment of salaries based on the promotion commenced, but we were excluded as the 70% payment continues without any reason. In other words, we were paid 70% of our old salary grade levels. In September 2019, we protested/demonstrated against the injustice, discrimination and marginalization. We demanded for our 100% salary. After negotiation, it was agreed that our 100% salary will be restored as soon as possible alongside that of Imo State University Teaching Hospital (IMSUTH) Orlu since they had a similar case”.

Continuing, he said, “consequently, in December 2019, the 100% salary structure was restored in IMSUTH and promotions paid, thus excluding Imo State Specialist Hospital, Owerri, despite our excellent performance and quality of service delivery in the face of severe shortchange of manpower and equipment. We were again assured that ours will be corrected in January 2020, unfortunately, we were still paid 70% of our old salary grade levels. Thus, we reject this unfair treatment and gross injustice”.

The workers however asked the Governor to restore their salary to 100% as applicable to their counterparts or colleagues at IMSUTH, Ministry of Health and Local Government Areas, and also pay the balance of their January 2020 salary based on 100% salary structure and their current levels with reference to promotion exercise of May 2018.

The truth of the matter is that the workers of the Imo State Specialist Hospital have suffered a great deal of marginalization and oppression. This is unfair because they are supposed to be among the first set of workers to receive 100% salary in the state, considering the nature of their job.

The question remains, why should they be receiving 70% salary when their counterparts in Imo State University Teaching Hospital Orlu, Local Government Health Workers and Ministry of Health, receive 100% salary? Again, is it proper for them to be talking of the restoration of their salary to 100% when their counterparts and other workers in the Country are talking of the implementation of N30,000.00 minimum wage? One can rightly say, this is the height of injustice because what is good for the goose should equally be good for the gander.

The claim in some quarters that the management of the hospital receive subvention from the government, is not good enough because departments and agencies of the government are run by subvention. That does not mean that the government will exclude them in the scheme of things. Of course, it was discovered that the management of the hospital is not receiving the correct subvention from the government. There is a shortfall based on the 70% salary structure initiated by the past administration. Again there has been a promotion exercise where the workers have been promoted to their current levels. This has also led to deficit in the subvention needed in the running of the hospital, including the payment of the workers’ salaries.

In this case, the solution will be to accommodate the current salary grade levels of workers by increasing the subvention to the hospital based on the current grade levels of the workers. In other words, the 70% salary structure should be abolished as it is no longer practiced in Imo State.

Perhaps, one thing that will not easily be dismissed with the wave of hand is the good job the Management and Staff of the Imo State Specialist Hospital are doing in the state. It is worthy of note that the hospital is the best performing state-owned hospital in the country. They are living above board that is why big hospitals, including the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri, refer their patients to the hospital whenever there is over-flow of patients.

Therefore, it will be wise for the present administration in the state led by Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma, to, as a matter of urgency, address all the problems facing the hospital, including the restoration of the 100% salary. It is obvious that if the workers are well remunerated as they are demanding, evidence is there that they will do better. This is a fact because despite the fact that the hospital is under-staffed, they are still rendering quality service to the public.

Governor Uzodinma and his lieutenants should bear in mind that their inability to address these challenges as soon as possible, will not only affect the people of the state adversely, but will also tarnish the image of the government. Hence the Governor should wear his thinking cap in order to write his name in gold.

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