Recent measures put in place by the Bayelsa State Government to prevent the Ebola scourge from affecting its citizens might suffer a setback, as junior health workers in the state, on Tuesday, shut down the major surveillance centres set up to contain the virus. Bayelsa workers were protesting unpaid promotion arrears and allowances of health workers in the various health institutions in the state. The workers, under the aegis of Joint Health Sector Unions, JOHESU, took to the streets of Yenagoa and declared a three-day warning strike to demand the payment of outstanding promotion arrears and allowances.
The strike led to shutting down of activities at major state and federally-owned hospitals used as designated Ebola virus surveillance centres by the state government, including the Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa, and the Niger Delta University, NDU, Teaching Hospital, Okolobiri. Though officials of the state ministry of health said the Ebola virus surveillance activities of the designated centres would not be affected, the strike by JOHESU members and doctors have paralysed services, as hospitals have been totally shut down in the state.
JOHESU Coordinator at FMC, Yenagoa, Mr. Simon Bernabas, said on Tuesday that the various unions were compelled to embark on the indefinite strike after a three-day warning strike in June. Contacted the Chief Medical Director, CMD, of the medical centre, Dr. Ebitimi Etebu, said the outstanding arrears of allowance was due to shortfall in funding. “The strike is malicious because it is a national thing. We have explained to the workers that funds to pay them are not with us here, and that they will be paid,” he said. Meanwhile, in Edo State, judiciary workers have accused the state government of ‘surreptitiously withholding’ their July 2014 salaries, over a recent nationwide strike. The workers said they had written a reminder to the state government on the non-payment of the July salaries, through their lawyer, Mr. Olayiwola Afolabi, who made a copy of the letter available to National Mirror in Benin City yesterday.