Hospital employees decry nepotism

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Cite questionable financial activities, salaries  for ‘ghost’ workers

Employees of Saint Yared Hospital worry they may lose their livelihoods due to an enduring disagreement between the hospital’s shareholders.
According to employees Capital spoke with, the hospital is considered by many to be one of the best health facilities in town but morale among staff has been low since shareholders have been unable to reach a common consensus over a dispute between management and the financial administration.
Staff claim that the company administration mainly those responsible for overseeing   financial issues are close relatives of the major shareholder and this has created a falling-out with the other share owners.
Some of the management, they said, including the operation manager, finance director, auditor and other prominent positions are held by close relatives of the major shareholder.
This has led to serious problems such as recently when the Ethiopian Revenue and Customs Authority (ERCA) billed the hospital for a large amount of uncollected tax, the employees Capital interviewed pointed out.
Some of the financial officers are said to have quit their jobs at the hospital in response to the murky financial structure. A letter that one of the finance officers wrote in his exit report that Capital obtained, indicated that there are several reasons for this. They include:  lack of proper management of financial documents and financial statements, and issuing cash invoices and cash receipts without a sufficient reason. The employee stated this was why he resigned. The former finance officer said that the hospital’s leadership is knotted by family.
The employees also claim that there are individuals who are included on the payroll and are being paid large salaries, but who do not exist in the company and haven’t been seen on duty. “If they are shareholders they have to earn the revenue from their dividends,” the employees argued.
The workers said that there is a disagreement between the two groups of managers; one of them represents the majority of shareholders and their dispute has affected the activity of the hospital.
The hospital’s worker association asked for clarification from the shareholders about the operation and ongoing condition of the company. The association stated in the beginning of the letter that the hospital had a good reputation in the past but this last year the hospital’s performance has declined which is causing employees to worry. The association also asked why the company has been unable to pay the income tax that was collected from employees to the relevant authority on time and requested clarification regarding who is responsible for paying the accrued tax. The letter also addressed several other concerns.
“The company is under nepotism and this affects the employees, the shareholders and the country,” one of the employees told Capital.
He said that the company was not audited for the past several years which has motivated the association to notify relevant government offices. One employee said: “the dominance of one individual is affecting the entire hospital and we are afraid the company might dissolve the employees’ legal rights.”
The employees via their association voiced their concern to the Labour and Social Affairs Bureau of the Bole Sub City and the Confederation of Ethiopian Labour Unions.
“We have also submitted a complaint to the Federal Ethics and AntiCorruption Commission about the unethical activities, illegal financial flow, and other questionable activities in the company including urging that an audit be conducted,” a representative said. They have also reported the issue to the Federal Police to investigate the illegal acts.
“We need government intervention for a solution at the company that employs over 200 people for the benefit of the serenity of the industry, the patients and employees,” they said. “This big facility is now deteriorating because of the disagreement between the shareholders,” they added.
Sisay Abebe, Co-Manager of St. Yared Hospital, who is also a founding member and shareholder at the hospital, told Capital that he has been informed about the employee’s concern. He accepted the association’s claim which was that there was not an agreement among the management.  “It is the livelihood of the employees who have been working for several years. I agree with them,”
The hospital is administered by two managers who have co-signed. “One of the co-managers is affiliated with the major shareholder,” he said.
Hiwot Tirfneh, Co-Manager of St. Yared Hospital, on her part told Capital that there is a disagreement between the shareholders that is being handled by the court. She declined to comment about the disagreement since the case is at the court, but she said that she has information about the concern of the employees. She added that so far the hospital is conducting services and their wages are being regularly paid.
The employees however, expressed their concern that while the shareholders are under a dispute the hospital’s lease contract could be terminated as early as July according to a notification from the lessor.  This has escalated their concern and feeling of insecurity.
According to the information Capital obtained Yared Hospital was formed more than a decade ago by two individuals namely Akeze Teame (MD), Sisay Shimeles and lately Getahun Yitbarek (MD) has joined the company. All are Diaspora from the US and France.
Employees said that the major shareholder Dr. Akeze Teame opened another facility called American Medical Centre in 2012 that they claim has created a conflict of interest between the hospital and the centre, which runs a similar businesses. They claim that the facility has been poaching the hospital’s clients. They are requesting an independent audit report and further investigations into the company.