By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo
Normal activities at the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), Akwa Ibom State were disrupted on Tuesday following action by Medical Interns comprising Pharmacists and Laboratory Scientists serving in the hospital who protested over the decision of the management to pay them half salaries.
The interns said that they were constraints to protest after efforts to get the Management of the hospital resume the payment of their full salaries failed.
Interns, who protested in front of the entrance to the hospital, in Uyo, carried placards with inscriptions such as “Pay us all arrears, January to May”, “We are tired of hearing stories”, “We need our 100 percent salaries”, “We are no different from those receiving full salaries”, “Jesus is not happy with you”, “Define ‘in due course,”, and “Explain anything soon” among others.
Speaking during the protest, Gracious Ogunkola, a Pharmacy intern, said their internship will end in two months time and wondered when they would be paid their due for the period they have worked.
“We are protesting because the hospital is not responding to our calls. We are asking them why are they not paying us our full salaries.
“We are working and our schedules are over stocked, we are over worked, but we are not getting our money. January, they paid us just 60 percent, the same thing in February, March and April. By May, June we were not even paid and we were asking them, ‘what is happening with our money’?
“After months and months of dialogue, the next thing we saw was a reduction from 60 percent to 48 percent. So we are asking them questions, ‘tell us what is happening’, they are not answering us.
“We met with the management on two occasions, they said there was a short fall from the Federal Government”.
Another protester who preferred to be unnamed said, “the CMD said there was a short fall due to the lack of money in the non regular account. Let me shock you, the money in the non-regular account is to be paid to adhoc staff. We want our money, that’s all.
One of the female protesters who preferred to remain anonymous said, “Why should they compare us with Calabar? They should compare us with Enugu, Umuahia, Bayelsa, they are paying them 100 percent there, not only Calabar. Calabar is their partner in crime”.
When the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Ememabasi Bassey was contacted through a phone call, he did not pick his calls or respond to the text message sent to him.
But the Public Affairs Officer, Mr. Offong Offong who responded on behalf of the CMD said the partial payment of interns was a national issue.
“It is a nation wide matter. It is not a UUTH matter. We have made our representation to government and we are awaiting the outcome of that representation.
“Whatever the decision of the FG, we will implement, but we don’t know how long it will take. We are hoping it will be soon,” he said.