Doctors’ strike looms in Bayelsa, Kogi over backlog of salaries
Former office holders in Benue urge Ortom to pay severance wages
Labour crises loom in Bayelsa and Kogi states’ health sector as doctors are threatening strike over the backlog of salaries owed them.
In Kogi, the state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association threatened to embark on an indefinite strike action in January 13, 2017 if Governor Yahaya Bello failed to pay all doctors their outstanding salaries.
The state government recently had promised to clear all outstanding salaries of workers by December 20, 2016, but many workers were left out, of which doctors were part of.
In its communiqué of December 23, 2016, signed by the Chairman, Dr. Magnus Ogaraku, the NMA gave Governor Bello a 21-day ultimatum to meet their demands or they would embark on indefinite strike from the said date.
The communiqué also accused the governor of not paying 10 medical officers employed on October 13, 2015 at the Kogi State University Teaching Hospital (KSUTH) Anyigba, while their counterparts in the ministry of justice and Kogi State Specialist Hospital were receiving regular salaries.
It also observed the gross underpayment and illegal deductions from the salaries of some medical officers working with the state government.
The communiqué condemned the application of no-work-no-pay rule to some members of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Federal Medical Centre Lokoja, in less than 49 days of commencement of strike action.
This, according to NMA contravenes the labour law, which states that, such actions shall be applied if the strike(s) exceeds 100 days.
In Bayelsa State, hard times await patients as the deadline of a strike notice by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) draws nearer.
To avert this, the NARD has urged the Federal Government to urgently wade into the lingering dispute. NARD had issued a three-week strike notice that would lapse on January 2, 2017.
The Public Relations Officer, NARD, Federal Medical Centre, Yenagoa branch, Dr. Ugoeze Asinobi, said yesterday that the doctors had shelved the planned strike three times in the past four months and were determined to begin January 2.
The resident doctors were agitating for a uniform template for the residency programme, infrastructure for tertiary health facilities, proper grading of doctors and payment of outstanding salaries, among other issues.
Asinobi said: “We don’t want strike, but we are going to resort to it again. The residency programme is fundamental to effective health care given the dearth of manpower as the country has less than 20 per cent of required experts.
“We wonder if health ministry officials are deliberately sabotaging the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari as their brazen and blatant disregard to the most basic institutional needs of the major workhorses of the health sector leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.
Asinobi said that NARD frowned on the wastages of building new primary health centres rather than rehabilitating, equipping and staffing existing ones with the requisite manpower.
The NARD spokesman explained that resident doctors had always embraced dialogue and discussions but regretted that their commitment to peace and industrial harmony had yet to be reciprocated.
He urged the Federal Government to wade into the industrial dispute in the overall interest of the citizenry.
Meanwhile, political office holders who served under the immediate past administration of Benue State governor Gabriel Suswam have pleaded with Governor Samuel Ortom to pay their severance allowance in the spirit of the festive season.