I recently graduated from one of our Universities and I'd been searching for a job for a while now. So I saw an ad for a Hospital in Abuja and amongst others I applied for the job. Guess I was lucky enough to be called up for an Interview which I aced and then returned for our orientation and start of work. This is where things started going left, looking back maybe I should have taken a closer look.
First the owners and the managers told us that they hadn't finished the hospital building yet since work was still ongoing on some floors and they would not be ab'e to start on the stipulated date as most of the equipments had also not been set up yet. But they reasured us that since we had already started that they would start payment of full salaries till any day the facility kicks off.
Then they brought out the contract papers for us to sign.
Yes I had a few migiviings about the contents of the papers and appending my signature to it but the members of the team who were Nigerians assured us that the expatriates would only offer the best for us and everything would be put in place and acceptable to each and everyone of us. So we all signed.
Next, we were taken out of the country for a few trainings and update courses for some months before our return to Nigeria which left us feeling so pumped up.
Then the first months salary was paid and thats when I landed back to earth. Not to sound greedy but part of the agreement stated that we would be paid in full pending when work starts (I did not request for a conpy of the contract) we were all sent mails that our salaries had been paid but we were all shortchanged. I quickly replied that this was in breach of the contract signed but I was the only one who seemed to have complained so I was brushed off.
A few weeks later parts of the facility was completed and we were asked to resume work, I never knew that the request to resume was for something else.
Before we had signed, the expatriates and nigerian management made a whole lot of statements of what they would do and put in place before we start and convinced us to sign our papers, including telling us that accommodations would be provided for all staff, about 2/3 persons per room, but surprise, surprise when we resumed, we were taken to a hall with about 10 double bunk beds and told that was our place.
One again I was the major source of dissent, that this was not what what we were told before we signed the contracts. They flatly told me that if it wasnt acceptable to me why did i sign the contract, and because i did it meant i was ok with what ever they provide. The contract was binding.
I felt I had no standing to fight that so I kept mute.
Then next thing I saw we were all given buckets, rags and mops to start cleaning up every inch of the compleated parts of the hospital. I refused since i knew this wasnt part of my job description, but my colleagues whom I expected to stand by me and reject such directives all picked the mops, buckets and rags and started cleaning up.
I was so ashamed and disgusted when some of the Nigerian Doctors, walked in, saw us, shook their heads, laughed and walked out, looking back at us and making some comments. I had never felt so disgusted in my life with a set of persons... and yes before you say it was just one sex of nurses cleaning, we also had male nurses there with us.
When on earth do we learn to stand up for ourselves in this country and this profession? They couldnt hire cleaners, but the nurses are good enough to do the job? We end up belittling ourselves so much.
A few weeks ago, one of the expats called me to his office and ordered me to go to the store pick up some fumigating equipment and spray around the wards, theatre and hospital grounds.
I was lost for words.
When did a Registered Nurse become a fumigator for God's sake? I told him I couldnt do that, it was not part of my job description. He flared up, called the Nigerian people working with him complaining about the attitude of his workers especially myself, instead of my country men and lady standing up for me they sided with the expat.
I quitely walked out, picked up my asthma inhaler, walked back in to the office, put my phone on video record mode in clear view of everyone and said since you all are forcing me to do this I want the evidence of you saying this so that once i have an attack i can go ahead and sue since i would have evidence on me since I had already made it clear to you that (1) it wasnt part of my job description and (2) I couldnt do it even if i want to... The speed with which everyone declined was quite amazing to me. They hired a fumigator to come do the job instead.
My advice... Always read the fine print on any contract before signing (do not accept word of mouth assurances, they can always deny saying such), stand up for yourself, do not assume your colleagues would stand by you in a fight and always stay safe.
PS: I'm pretty sure by now I would have been fired but we all signed the contract to a specified number of years with them so there's that. So at the moment we stuck with each other for now I guess.
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