Casual Staff Lock-out Medical Doctors, Nurses, Ors at Ikot Okoro Hospital
…Protest 6 months unpaid salaries
A dramatic sight presented itself at Ikot Okoro General Hospital on Wednesday, October 20, 2021 as staff and patients were denied entrance into the Hospital’s premises by casual workers of the Hospital who started protesting since Monday, October 18, 2021.
The workers who barricaded the entrance of the Hospital to express displeasure at their unpaid salaries were seen carrying various placards with different inscriptions which read: “Commissioner, Hospital Management Board, give us our money”, “Slow down! Gateway at protest for 6 months salary”, “Gov. Udom, come and fulfill your promise, we need employment” and the likes.
Following enquiries made by this reporter, it was gathered that the security wing of the Hospital is made up of contract staff employed to work at the General Hospital through Gateway Securities, a security outfit in the State.
Following their employment, the casual workers started experiencing delay in the payment of their entitlements which has lasted for six (6) months as such, the protest.
Lamenting the unfair treatment, one of the protesters informed that it was not the first time they were protesting the same cause.
“About six months ago, we were owed for 6 months too and we protested before they gave us part of the money. So we’re doing this again since it is the only language they understand”, he said.
Another protester who spoke amidst tears also told this reporter that the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel had promised to ensure their permanent absorption into the Hospital as staff but forgot about them thus, leaving them to suffer untold hardship at the hands of their employers.
“We have been working diligently in this place without a dime for 6 months yet, no one has said a thing about payment. Governor had promised to staff us permanently but we’ve not heard anything till now. We are protesting for our right and we won’t stop or open this gate for anybody until our money is paid”, they maintained.
After pleading and waiting to be allowed entrance to no avail, Doctors, Nurses and patients could be seen returning to their destinations as the protesting workers remained adamant to their appeals.
Sources within the Hospital who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr. Ekpedeme Udoaka had reported the issue to the Permanent Secretary of the Hospitals Management Board on Monday when the protest began.
“We have not heard anything about it since then. He (Dr. Udoaka) didn’t come today maybe because he didn’t want to face the protesters because he was locked inside by them and later released after much pressure. Tuesday was a public holiday so, he didn’t come to work”, the source said.
Meanwhile, another inside source revealed that almost all the patients at the Hospital have been discharged to avoid complications arising from the embargo on entrance. “Whether they are stable or not, we can’t keep them when there are no doctors or nurses to attend to them”, the source stated.