· We support the LAUTECH Hospital Workers’ Strike
The Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), Osun State Chapter hereby calls on the state governments of Osun and Oyo States to immediate pay up all arrears of salaries of health workers at the Ladoke Akintola University Teaching (LAUTECH) Hospital. The failure of the two state governments to pay workers’ salaries in the hospital has led to a strike action by all workers of the hospital, since Monday 14 April 2014. This has consequently led to shutdown of the hospital, which is a major health facility in Osun State.
According to newspapers’ reports, patients in the hospital have been discharged prematurely to their families, while several others who cannot get their relations to take them out have been stranded. The workers were forced to embark on the strike after the governments, especially the Osun State government that has taken responsibility for the payment of workers’ salaries, refused all entreaties by workers’ unions to pay the three months’ salary arrears of workers.
Consequently, we in the SPN, while we support the genuine demands of the health workers, place the blame of the strike at the doorstep of the government, especially Osun State government. The hospital, which is located in Osogbo, serves as a major health facility in the state, especially as most health institutions, including primary and secondary health institutions are in deplorable conditions. Therefore, a responsible government should have avoided the shutdown of this vital hospital in the first place.
It is more worrisome that a state government that claims to be ‘progressive’ will expect workers to work for three months without salaries, while politicians in power are living extravagantly on the resources of the state. Of course, the state government has been feigning falling revenue as justification for denying workers their entitlements. However, the same excuse has not applied to political office holders. Moreover, it has not stopped government’s frivolous spending, for instance procurement of cars to leaders of social groups. But when workers raise the issue of their salaries, they are told the government is broke. In fact, the argument of being broke exposes the fake propaganda of the Osun State government, which has told the public that the government had saved N30 billion internally.
We call on workers and poor people in Osun State not to be hoodwinked by this fake excuse of reduction of revenue. Even before revenue reduction, working people hardly gain anything from the government. In fact, more attacks have been launched on them. For instance, since September 2013, casual workers employed by the government under the Osun Youth Empowerment Scheme (OYES) have not been paid alongside those employed under government’s O’Ambulance programme. Since January this year, pensioners have only been paid one-month pension, while their gratuities have not been paid. In fact, thousands of pensioners have not been put on the payroll since last year. Those retirees who were forced to enroll in the exploitative Contributory Pension Scheme have not been paid a dime as government has refused to remit its share to the Pension Fund Administrators; yet N2, 500 was extorted from them under fraudulent guises.
All this shows the hypocrisy of the government when it comes to workers’ welfare. This current strike by health workers in LAUTECH Teaching Hospital is a further manifestation of this. We in the SPN call on labour movement in the state to take up this issue, and other labour issues. A situation where labour leaders find it convenient to shower encomiums on the governor when conditions of workers are worsening is at best ridiculous. We also call on health workers in LAUTECH teaching hospital to organize popular mass mobilization including rallies, protest marches, press campaign, etc, as the current government in Osun State, and its counterpart in Oyo State have developed thick skin to the suffering of workers. Only a mass movement of working people can force them to yield.
Alfred Adegoke Kola Ibrahim
State Chairman State Secretary