In 2009 when John Ola landed a job as a contract workers on the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), his take-home pay was ₦15,000.
Not somebody that retains quiet when not happy, he and his fellow home employees quickly demanded a pay rise. They acquired it in 2011, and it could stay at ₦20,000 for an additional 9 years.
Mr Ola, a father of three, and his colleagues stored pushing for extra. Not solely did this win him foes on the hospital’s administration facet, it denied him an opportunity to be made everlasting workers. However he didn’t flinch.
A breakthrough got here his method March this 12 months, a day after a protest on March 13, the date on which they had been paid for February.
“We’re at all times paid the wage of the earlier month in the course of the subsequent month,” he stated.
By April 2, with the protest nonetheless recent in thoughts, they acquired their pay for March, this time it had been upped to ₦30,000. They had been very blissful, Mr Ola recalled, however it could final for that month alone because the COVID-19 pandemic took maintain of the world.
They had been anticipating April pay when their employers invited them to a gathering. Mr Ola couldn’t make the assembly, however his colleague, Chinedu Festus, 21, did.
On the assembly, Mr Festus stated they had been advised coronavirus has diminished the hospital’s income on account of low affected person influx attributable to the closure of quite a few sections of the hospital.
They got two choices: both half of them are laid off or their newly launched ₦30,000 is lower by half. That will take them again to the 2009 charge.
“None of those was an possibility for us. Work hasn’t decreased, why would pay scale back?” Mr Festus stated. However his objection didn’t matter. Their pay for April paid this month was ₦15,000.
Domestic workers like Mr Ola, about 2,000 of them, are workers of LUTH Initiative Restricted, the non-public wing of LUTH, established by its management to present high-end medical companies to sufferers who pays extra. The administration additionally makes use of them to maintain the hospital operating when, for example, everlasting workers go on strike.
Paradoxically, whereas these workers work to get the nation effectively, they’re amongst among the poorest paid public employees within the nation.
They don’t seem to be listed for advantages past the meagre salaries and their employment phrases are obscure with no official accepting accountability. The LUTH Initiative web site says the unit is headed by a neurosurgeon who reviews to the chief medical director of the hospital, however the CMD, when reached by PREMIUM TIMES, claimed solely the board of the hospital may remark.
Interviews with a number of employees portrayed an exploitative association through which the home workers aren’t handled as a workers of the hospital however as informal employees with little or no bargaining energy to barter their destiny.
Based mostly on PREMIUM TIMES evaluation, the least the employees have spent within the firm is 4 years. Some have spent 13 years, but, they’ve had a really sluggish pay rise: ₦15,000 in 2009; ₦20,000 in 2011; and ₦30,000 in 2020; and now, ₦15,000.
All of the workers who spoke to PREMIUM TIMES stated they’re neither on any wage grade stage nor do they get periodical pay increment, besides by protests, which they hardly strive.
“We’re not paid depart allowance if we ever go on depart. No free medical remedy is prolonged to us,” stated Onu Chidi, one other home workers. “The worst is the exclusion from contributing to the nationwide pension fee which is obligatory for all employees to depend on at outdated age,” one other workers stated.
The workers stated they by no means acquired insurance coverage, hazard allowance, medical health insurance or some other allowance in any way. However they can not converse out as a result of they concern retribution. Those that spoke for this report agreed their names be modified for that reason.
Extra threat, much less pay
If it turns into legislation, an modification to the Labour Act within the Home of Representatives would criminalise casualisation of workers for greater than six months. A most of ₦2 million or imprisonment of two years or each is the proposed penalty for the director of defaulting corporations.
Additionally, the Pension Reform Act 2014 mandates public and personal employers (with greater than 15 employees) and the staff to respectively contribute a minimal of 10 per cent and eight per cent of workers’ wage to a pension scheme account run by the pension fee each month.
Tajudeen Olatunji, the president of the Lagos State chapter of the Joint Well being Sector Unions (JOHESU), stated the LUTH Initiative is capitalising on the excessive charge of unemployment within the nation to use these workers. “No person with proper considering sense will take this type of affords,” he added.
With the coronavirus dangers, allowances promised to healthcare employees in Lagos aren’t prolonged to those employees. They really feel disillusioned that they aren’t getting any type of recognition for what they’re doing.
One in every of them is Shehu Yusuf, 34, who works as an oxygen attendant within the engineering division of the hospital.
The daddy of 4 had been on the job for 13 years. Regardless of “risking our lives every single day to avoid wasting individuals from the virus,” he stated, “all we get is pittance on the time of a pandemic.”
In a current instance, Hannah Emmanuel, 40, was quarantined for 2 weeks after 5 docs, a few of whom she and 7 different home employees had had contact with, contracted coronavirus.
“I used to be very afraid. It was solely God that saved me,” she stated, questioning how she would have coped had she had the virus together with her two kids to cater for.
Ms Emmanuel works within the labour ward. Her job is to clear and clear the ward. She stated she was a part of the crew that delivered a 68-year-old mother of her baby in LUTH final month.
“They could be on the base of the facility pyramid, however they’re additionally at COVID-19 threat,” tweeted Fisayo Soyombo, a journalist who blew the pay lower whistle on the time. “They clear the wards — all of the blood & fluids within the theatre and the wards. They clear all of the waste merchandise.”
Mrs Emmanuel stated regardless of her job prescription, she buys protecting clothes like face masks herself, a declare made by 5 different employees. The lower on their salaries to ₦15,000 is unfair, they stated.
“Issues aren’t fairly simple for us,” Ms Emmanuel stated. “I purchase a face masks (myself).”
Like her, Dennis Daniel, 32, stated he’s drowning in monetary woes.
In his fourth 12 months as a porter within the hospital, he stated a pay lower at “this time is devastating.”
That is so as a result of, on transportation alone, he spends about ₦500 day by day from his Bariga residence to Idi-Araba, the place LUTH is situated. This implies on the finish of every month, he would have spent half his ₦30,000 wage on transportation.
However now that his transport fare is the same as his wage, he can’t however despair. Together with his 9-year-old daughter additionally to cater for and his debt already excessive, Mr Daniel stated he barely feeds twice a day.
“They use us like machines. We’re people. We’ve not seen a single cent as an allowance,” he stated.
“Within the hospital, contracting the virus is straightforward. A few of my physician pals have it. They’ve insurance coverage however we don’t. We’re executed for.”
Three representatives of the LUTH Initiative eluded requests for remark. One in every of them whose contact is on the corporate’s letterhead recognized as John by Truecaller responded rudely over the cellphone earlier than he hung the decision.
“Oga, go and name CMD. Don’t name my quantity once more,” he stated.
The chairman, medical advisory committee, Lanre Adeyemo, additionally declined remark. He directed all feedback to the CMD.
The chief medical director of the hospital, Chris Bode, on Tuesday, stated the employees aren’t LUTH workers and he couldn’t touch upon behalf of the corporate.
He added that the corporate works on a “rent and fireplace” foundation, and it doesn’t report back to him however to the board of LUTH.
“They don’t work for LUTH. They work in LUTH,” he stated, including that they don’t even have contact with frontline well being employees.
Opposite to what Mr Chris stated, nevertheless, data on the company’s website exhibits that the coordinator of LUTH Initiatives, presently Femi Bankole, reviews on to the Chief Medical Director of LUTH.
On Thursday, Mr Chris declined additional feedback.
“LUTH Initiatives is shrouded in secrecy,” a LUTH resident physician who spoke underneath strict anonymity, advised PREMIUM TIMES.
She stated the hospital’s administration is “benefiting from the unemployment within the nation to rent with no guidelines, no rules, no strict code of conduct. They only do as they need.”
In the meantime, employees like Mr Ola and Mr Yusuf have “facet hustles” aside from the “pittance” they get as home workers. So they are saying they may afford to stroll away from the job anytime.
However there are others who’ve nowhere to show. For them, as they run from contracting the virus by doing their jobs as fastidiously as they’ll, their monetary woes preserve catching up with them.