Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

CDWR Condemns Planned Mass Sack of Staff in Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH)

* Workers must be defended

* We call for immediate payment of all salary arrears for the affected staff

The attention of the Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Osun State, has been drawn to the planned sack of hundreds of recently recruited staff at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ile-Ife, by the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. This sack will reportedly affect more than 1,900 staff, who were alleged to have been purportedly wrongfully employed by the former management led by Prof. Owojuyigbe. Also, many staff who were promoted in the last one year are being demoted under the same guise. We are further informed that hospitals under the institution at Ile-Ife and Ilesa have been militarised to, according to official communication, forestall response to the implementation of the sack.

This approach of the Ministry is not only inhumane but also arbitrary and unjust. This is coming especially at a dire period when the health sector is suffering from a massive brain drain as qualified doctors and health professionals relocate en masse in pursuit of greener pasture, this sack is completely unacceptable and shows the disconnect of Nigeria’s ruling elite, who do not rely on public health facility, from the reality confronting society. The affected staff were employed in December 2022, having passed through series of employment procedures. Since then, they were not paid salaries for a whole year, despite working for the institution, something which is contrary to the extant labour law of the country. But the same ministry that looked the other way when these workers were not paid for the work they were doing, suddenly realised that there was wrongful employment.

According to the report of the investigation conducted by the ministry over the employment process, the former chief medical director, Prof. Owojuyigbe, employed more than 1,900 staff above the 450 approved by the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation. As much as we would not support official malfeasance and fraud, we question the supervisory capacity of the ministry under whose nose such act was carried out, such that it took the ministry a whole year to unravel this ‘mystery’. Worse still, why should it be workers, who have no say in the whole process, and who have been economically incapacitated for a whole year due to non-payment of salaries, who will now bear the brunt of the official malfeasance of the OAUTH management and the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.

Furthermore, it is our contention that the government needs to look at the social implication of sacking over 1,900 staff, who have been carrying out their respective jobs, albeit without pay for a whole year, especially in this period of government-instigated accentuated mass suffering. Moreover, we believe the priority of the ministry should be whether the affected staff actually contribute to the operation and service of the institution through their employment or not. If the affected workers have requisite qualification and carry out their duties, it is only reasonable to retain them. Rather than make victims of poor, unpaid workers, the ministry should rather focus on prosecuting officials who flouted the rules, and improve on its oversight functions.

We call on trade unions, especially the in-house unions, and particularly, Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU), to take up this issue and defend the affected workers.

Alfred Adegoke

State Coordinator

Kola Ibrahim

State Secretary

E-mail: [email protected]