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Socialist Democracy July 2004




The Campaign for Workers and Democratic Rights (CWDR) uses this medium to express its total support for and solidarity with the on-going industrial action of Nigerian workers at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) which as of Friday, 25th June 2004 entered its 14th day.

The workers, organized under six unions and Associations operating in the health sector, i.e National Association of Nigerian Nurses and Midwives, Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria, Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists, Pharmaceutical Association of Nigeria, and Physiotherapy Association of Nigeria, embarked on strike over the non-payment of their 25% increase and balance in HATTIS IV, which runs into 19 months. This 19 months arrears is from excess or balance of salaries based on the federal government increase in salary, but which the management of LUTH deliberately held onto, despite the fact that other federal Teaching Hospitals have paid their workers. The workers are also protesting the gradual decadence in LUTH and irregularities in promotions amongst other things.

There is no doubt in the fact that LUTH today is a very faint shadow of its old self. It is on record that in the past, LUTH was a thing of pride in Africa. However today, due to bad government policies and mismanagement, it is in a terrible state of neglect. It is rather very disheartening to know that today, LUTH has no suction machine, has only one functional x-ray machine in the entire complex, and does not posses any functional scanning machine. Just recently the Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) accreditation given to LUTH, (one of the few institutions accredited in West Africa) had been withdrawn due to ineffectiveness.

LUTH makes not less than N25m monthly from patients who are made to pay through their nose; yet, there is basically nothing to show for it. All the money only seems to disappear into air, while the edifice degenerates daily. We know that those who profit from the sickness of LUTH and by extension that of such public institutions are the numerous one-man businesses around LUTH (e.g. laboratories, x-ray centres, pharmacies etc), which are usually owned by top management members and their families. Things have really degenerated that even the Chief Medical Director (CMD), Prof Onatolu Odukoya, had to travel to South Africa for medical check-up!

LUTH today is now being used by the consultants as a transit to private hospitals in order to extort the patients and their relations especially on ailments that will require surgery, hiding under the fact that LUTH facilities, like theatres, are dilapidated and consequently, lure patients' relations to expensive private hospitals of their choice consultants- with special fee for them and huge bills from the private hospitals.

We in the CWDR enjoin the LUTH workers to be steadfast in the struggle we support their position of no money, no work, because a sick person cannot take care of the sick.

It is instructive to note that the same management that cannot provide the necessary funds for services and infrastructure, spends N320,000.00 per month and another N300,000.00 per month on maintenance of security dogs. Since the beginning of the industrial action, the management has been financing the cost of retaining two truck load of policemen with which it has been harassing and intimidating the workers' leaders.

The CWDR hereby calls for the following:

  • Immediate payment of the 19-month arrears to the LUTH workers based on the already approved and released funds on HATTIS IV.

  • Repair or replacement of equipment at the modular theatre and installation of x-ray and scanning machines at strategic units in LUTH.

  • A halt to government privatisation policies, which render public utilities prostrate in order for them to be sold as scrap.

  • A better standard of living for LUTH workers through payment of real wages commiserate to the rate of inflation. Ditto for all Nigerian workers.

  • Democratic ownership and management of public utilities and institutions, such that the decision making process could be democratised.



Socialist Democracy July 2004