Lagos doctors may begin fresh strike on Monday
DOCTORS in state-own hospitals in Lagos are set to down tools yet again, in protest over unpaid outstandings and persistent casualisation of workers in the health sector.
The outstanding salaries are for months of May 2012, July, August and September 2014, during which the doctors were on strike. Casualisation of doctors, otherwise called the engagement of locum doctors, followed the suspension of residency training programme in Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) three years ago.
The doctors, under the aegis of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos branch, in a letter to the state government, dated March 6, 2015, and made available to The Guardian Wednesday, informed governor Babatunde Fashola of the planned strike action beginning from Monday, March 16, 2015.
The doctors at their Emergency Affiliates Meeting last Thursday, had reviewed the issues of doctors in the employment of the Lagos State government (Medical Guild), with the submission that the outstanding salaries have not been paid, issue of casualisation still unreversed and that “LASUTH is at the verge of collapse academically, due to the non-employment of resident doctors since three years ago.”
It was gathered that several meetings had been held between the state government and the doctors in the last six months, with some attended by Governor Fashola, to bring closure to the issues. Though the government was initially adamant on not paying the doctors for the period they did not work because the ‘no work, no pay’ labour policy applies, the governor had promised to pay the outstandings for political reasons.
Besides, Fashola at the last State Council on Health meeting, argued that health workers are the most critical stakeholders in modern society and never can their industrial action or inter-professional rivalry be justified.
For the doctors, however, the state government has not put her money where her mouth is. Chairman of the Lagos NMA, Dr. Temitope Ojo noted that the state government had selectively applied the ‘no work, no pay’ rule to doctors, having paid the Lagos State University lecturers, Lagos State Polytechnic lecturers, Judiciary Workers and members of JOHESU during and after their strikes actions.
Ojo added that the Medical Guild had shelved the option of strike about three times, following due notice of withdrawal of service to the government, “with the hope that reason will prevail.”
However, he said: “The Medical Guild reviewed their position and unanimously agreed to withdraw the services indefinitely with provision of emergency only, effective from Monday March 16, 2015, if all issues remain unresolved.
“The condition shows that the Medical Guild still believes in a peaceful resolution, hence the shift in the date of commencement of strike to March 16, 2015,” he said.
Secretary to the association, Dr. Babajide Saheed still appealed to the state government to tow the path of peace, “pay all outstanding emoluments that had been withheld, revise all casual employed doctors to permanent employment, and commence immediate recruitment of resident doctors in LASUTH, Ikeja.”
Failure of this, Saheed added, the “NMA Lagos State will be left with no option than to call all its members in the state on a general withdrawal of services in all institutions in the state, after one week of commencement of the Medical Guild’s withdrawal of services, in accordance with the resolution of 30 December 2014,” he said.
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