- We call for immediate payment of all salary arrears for the affected staff
- We call on trade unions, pro-democracy groups, the media and the public to support the workers
The Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR), Osun State condemns in absolute terms the sack of hundreds of staff of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Ile-Ife by the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in collusion with the management of the hospital. This sack affected more than 1,500 staff, who were alleged to have been purportedly wrongfully employed by the former management led by Prof. Owojuyigbe.
We demand immediate reversal of the mass sack and immediate payment of all outstanding salaries. We also support the peaceful protest actions taken by the workers to press home their demands. We call on trade unions, the media, pro-democracy organisations and the public to support demands of these affected workers and put pressure on government and hospital management to reverse this unjust action.
This mass sacked carried out by the management of OAUTH and the Federal Ministry of Health is not only inhumane but also arbitrary and unjust. 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 1900 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 suffer for the deeds 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 1,500 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 qualifications 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 adequately funding the hospital and the health sector to meet the need of the society.
This mass sack is also 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.
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.