JUNIOR Health Workers in Bayelsa State, on Tuesday, shut down major surveillance centres established by the state government following protest and strike declared by health workers over unpaid promotion arrears and allowances.
The health workers, under the auspices of Joint Health Sector Unions, took to the streets of Yenagoa, on Monday and declared a three-day warning strike to demand for payment of their outstanding arrears and allowances.
The strike action, it was gathered, has paralysed activities at major state and Federal Government owned hospitals used as Ebola Virus Surveillance centres by the state government including the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa and the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri.
At the physiotherapy department of the Federal Medical Centre, patients were forced out of the complex by representatives of the various health unions who locked up the facility. Also, hundreds of patients were dismissed at the General Out Patients Department where consultant physicians were rendering skeletal services. Some critically ill patients on admission were also ejected.
A relation of an ejected patient, Moses Salo, told the Nigerian Tribune that “This is one strike to many, first the members of Nigerian Medical Association and now the other categories of health workers are joining them. It is very pathetic that no one cares for the interest of patients. My mother has been under intensive care and managed by the consultants who are not part of the strike, but this time around, even the nurses and others have started their own.”
Mr Simon Bernabas, Coordinator of the Joint Health Sector Unions at FMC, Yenagoa, said on Tuesday that the various unions were compelled to embark on the indefinite strike after a three-day warning strike in June.
He said that the refusal of the management to pay promotion arrears and other outstanding allowances currently being enjoyed at other federal medical centres made the strike inevitable.
When contacted, the Chief Medical Director of FMC, Yenagoa, Dr Ebitimi Etebu, said that the outstanding allowance was due to funding shortfall.
“The strike is malicious because it is a national thing. We have explained to the workers that funds to pay them is not with us here and that they will be paid,” he explained.
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