Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Workers of Abia State Health Management Board, HMB, Tuesday, took to the streets to protest 14 months of salary arrears.
This is coming 55 days after medical doctors commenced indefinite strike to protest 25 months of salary arrears owed doctors in Abia State University Teaching Hospital Aba, ABSUTH.
The protesters carried placards with different inscriptions such as: “Pay us our 14 months salary arrears,” “No salary no work,” etc.
They decried their predicaments following months of unpaid wages.
Addressing newsmen later, the Chairman, Medical and Health Association of Nigeria, HMB branch, Comrade Chidinma Nwokeoma, decried the plight of their members as a result of the non-payment of their salaries.
She said they were owed for 14 months and that despite various appeals by the workers, Government had not shown any sign that it had their interest at heart.
“In the second week of December 2022, Government came up with biometrics and we thumb-printed. We were assured that we would be paid at the end of the exercise.
“But this is February, about two months after the biometric capturing of our members, yet we have not seen any Kobo.
“We have issued 14 days ultimatum but nothing happened. We issued seven days ultimatum, Government did not do anything.
“We have exhausted every option we have. Now we are going to embark on indefinite strike. We have been patient enough. HMB workers deserve a better life.”
She lamented the plight of their members many of whom, according to her, can no longer cope with life.
“We have seen hardship. We don’t have money with which to eat let alone for transportation. This Government has been very insensitive to our welfare!”
Adding his voice, the Chairman, National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwifery, HMB branch, Comrade Friday Maxwell, said over 10 of their members were currently hospitalised due to ill health following hardship associated with salary arrears.
Comrade Maxwell who said some of the affected colleagues had no money to pay their medical bills, wondered whether it was a crime to be a civil servant in Abia.
In the same vein, the Chairman, Allied Action Committee, Comrade Chikezie Echeta, threatened that HMB staff would paralyse the state health sector if Government remained adamant to their legitimate demands.
“We want to shut down the entire health system so that we can all go home and rest. We can’t even come to work now because there is no money anywhere in our house. We are starving, so, it’s better we all stay home until Government does the needful.”
One of the protesters, Ifeanyi Chijioke, who looked pale with a small boy leading him, said he had been sick for over one month but there is no money to go to the hospital.
“I have been sick. They said their is no blood in my system but I have no money to buy drugs.”