The Abia State Hospital Management Board (HMB) workers have sent a Save-Our-Soul message to the Governor of the state, Okezie Ikpeazu, decrying 19 months unpaid salaries.
The HMB workers today staged a protest at the Umuahia metropolis, blocking major routes especially the Aba road area, from the Federal Medical Center to the Golden Guinea Breweries Plc, causing heavy traffic jam along the area.
In an interview with newsmen, the chairman of the Allied Action Committee Hospital Management Board, Comr. Chikezie Echeta, said they were protesting the non payment of their salaries by the Abia State government.
According to him, ”We are angry because we are owed 19 months salary arrears and we want our governor and the world to know about it.
”We are very angry because we have responsibilities to take care of, so let them pay us.“
Continuing, the chairman of Nigeria Civil Service Union, Abia HMB branch, Comr. Chibundu Okoro Alozie, decried government attitude towards the HMB workers, stating that there is no genuine reason why the government should owe them to the tune of 19 months.
His words, ”We are owed 19 months salary arrears and there is no genuine reason given for owing us, because other ministries are paid regularly but they do not pay us.
”We are resilient and committed to our duties but the challenge is that we are not motivated.
”Another issue is that, previously the Head of HMB which is the office of the Chief Executive was being occupied by the oldest doctor in HMB, who knows the challenges of the board, but now government appoints outsiders to occupy this sensitive position, including the Director of Finance and these outsiders do not understand the challenges of HMB and it is affecting the way things are going on.“
In the same vein, Comrade Nwokoma Chidinma Mary, the chair person, Medical and Health Workers of Nigeria HMB branch, explained that despite the memorandum of understanding that Abia State government entered into with HMB workers, yet the government has refused to abide by the agreement.
”Abia State government has refused to honour the agreement reached with JOHESU State Council Abia State.
”Sometimes last January, we negotiated with the government to be paying HMB workers 3 months per a time, till they deflate the backlog of the salary arrears.
”They only complied once, being that of January and when we called off strike they stopped and when we threatened to embark on another strike, they called us again promising to be paying us monthly, but up till this very moment we have not heard anything from them.
”The HMB workers are suffering. We have families too. We want the government to stop treating us like slaves, we are Abians too”, she cried out.
In their separate speeches, Comrade Dave Otuiheneme, the chairman of Nigeria Union of Allied Health professionals and Comrade Mbanaso Ifeanyi, appealed to the Abia State government to pay them their salary arrears, disclosing that many workers are in deep pains as a result of non payment of their salaries.
”They are owing us 19 months salary arrears, this year, we have only been paid for 4 months.
”Imagine a husband and wife working in this same place, how will they cope.
”We are angry because we are hungry and we have no choice than to embark on peaceful protest so as to register our displeasure, that is why we blocked this Umuahia -Aba road.
”We are parents that have responsibilities. I believe in identifying the problem and solving it.
”I want my beloved Governor to declare a state of emergency in HMB”, they lamented.
Meanwhile the Allied Action Committee (AAC) comprises of NAGGMDP, MHWUN, NANNM, AUPCTRE, AMLSN, NUAHP, ASCN and NCSU.