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UCH labour union’s 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. working directive records partial compliance

The directive given by the workers’ union for University College Hospital (UCH) workers to work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. recorded partial compliance on Wednesday, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

A NAN correspondent, who was at the hospital between 4.00 p.m. and 5.45 p.m., reports that while some staff members were seen going home around past 4, others were at their duty posts, attending to patients.

NAN reports that the Joint Action Committee (JAC), the umbrella body of all the unions in the hospital, issued a notice on Tuesday directing the staffers to work only between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday.

The chairman of JAC, Mr. Oludayo Olabampe, said, while given the directive, that it would be dangerous and risky for workers to attend to patients in a situation where there was no power supply.

NAN reports that the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company (IBEDC) had disconnected the nation’s premier teaching hospital’s power supply over alleged indebtedness.

IBEDC had put UCH’s indebtedness at over N400 million, spanning over six years.

However, the hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Prof. Jesse Otegbayo, accused the company of giving the facility industrial bills, in spite of the fact that it was established to render social services.

Olabampe also said that the workers had been working without light since March 19 and could, therefore, not continue operating in such a situation.

NAN observed that some patients were seen in some of the wards being attended to medical personnel, including doctors and nurses.

Also, the hospital’s service department and the universal laboratory were seen operating and some staff members working.

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However, the chemical pathology laboratory was seen firmly locked after the 4 p.m. directive, while the accident and emergency departments were completely empty, indicating that patients were not being admitted.

The Otunba Subomi Balogun Children’s Emergency ward was, however, open, as nurses and other medical personnel were seen attending to the children on admission.

One of the nurses in the ward, who preferred anonymity, told NAN that the children were being attended to in spite of the 8.00 a.m to 4.00 p.m working directive by the union.

“As you can see, we are working, notwithstanding the directive; the hospital management gave us a generator to power the ward,” the nurse said.

A patient’s relative, Mrs Temitayo Taiwo, said her brother, who was admitted on Tuesday, was being attended to even after 4 p.m.

Also, another patient’s relative, who simply identified herself as Funke, said her sister, who was admitted three weeks ago, was being attended to and that she was getting better.

“In fact, they have been trying their best; they had attended to my sister this evening, even before you came.

“Oftentimes, they put on generators to be able to work, as the light issue is really affecting patients, particularly in terms of doing tests and x-rays. However, the workers are doing their best to attend to our people,” she said.

Many other patients’ relatives said that they did not feel the impact of the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. working directive, as their relatives were still being attended to.

A staffer from the hospital’s service unit, who identified herself as Mrs. Aderogba, said: “We are working on humanitarian ground; we are trying to do our jobs because we are receiving salaries and we thought we should render services in return.”

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A medical practitioner, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said very senior nurses would still be attending to patients beyond the period that they were directed to work.

“What we are seeing now is like 10 percent of what UCH does; we do much more than this, but the issue of the light disconnection is not making things easy for us to work,” the medical practitioner said.

The workers, however, appealed to the government at all levels, corporate bodies, and kind-hearted Nigerians to come to the aid of the foremost health institution to prevent it from being completely grounded.

Meanwhile, the UCH management has said that it was not within the union’s purview to determine the number of hours within which the staff members should work.

The management, in a memo issued by the Director of Administration, Wole Oyeyemi, on Tuesday, said that some members of staff were on shift duty, for which they received shift duty allowance.

“Hence, if work hours are limited to 8.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m, failure of those on shift beyond 4.00 p.m. to show up for work will be tantamount to absence from duty without leave,” it stated. (NAN)

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