Medical doctors in the employment of Lagos State are to commence another indefinite strike today, as their effort to reach a truce with the state government at the weekend was unsuccessful.
Medical Guild, the umbrella body of the doctors serving in the state’s public hospitals, had on March 8 issued a 10-day ultimatum to government to pay all outstanding monies allegedly withheld as a result of previous strikes embarked upon by the doctors.
Daily Independent learnt that the leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) at the weekend, made unsuccessful efforts to meet with Governor Babatunde Fashola to discuss the unhealthy development.
“The inability of our leadership to meet with the governor or his representative on behalf of the state at the weekend has left our members with the only option of embarking on the proposed strike”, said one of the doctors in the employment of the state government.
A statement directing all medical doctors in the employment of state government to commence an indefinite strike from today was issued on Sunday and pasted on the hospitals’ notice boards.
In a statement signed by the chairman of the Guild of Doctors, Dr. Biyi Kufo, it reads:
“Lagos State Government (LASG) refuses to embrace last minute interventions by NMA National President and Secretary.
“All members (without exclusion) are to proceed on indefinite strike from 8am tomorrow, Monday 16/03/15.
“No clinics, No General Outpatients Department (GOPD) and no elective surgeries. Emergencies/Crritically ill patients only will be attended to.
In the notice of ultimatum, the Guild had stated: “The issues in contention include the continued employment of doctors as casual (contract) workers; the non-employment of resident doctors in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH); and the discriminatory application of the state’s ‘no work, no pay’ policy to members of the Medical Guild in the period between April/May 2012 and September 2014.”
However, speaking to our Correspondent on behalf of government, Special Adviser on Public Health, Dr. Yewande Adesina, re-stated government’s position on some of the issues at stake, saying, “If the Federal Government has the fund and wherewithal to provide certain things, it is very wrong to impose it on the state; there is nowhere in the world this is done.
“if government said it does not have money to pay now and that it would do so by spreading payments overtime and the doctors do not believe, there is not so much that government can do about that; I however see it (the strike) as an easy way out to blame government for everything”, said Adesina.
On whether government is ready to pay the withheld doctors’ salaries, Adesina said, “There is a law and that law states, ‘no work no pay’; Lagos State did not manufacture it”.
Continuing, she explained, “in the past we have had to work with professional bodies to palliate and draw closer each time there was a strike.
“But it has become one strike too many so much so that our professionals on the flimsiest excuses embark on a strike expecting that we all understand it is just a misunderstanding that can be overlooked and then get paid.
“Honestly, we had overlooked the law in the past, but then the strikes became one too frequent that we just must draw a line; government has reached its limits on strikes in this state and the state executive council as of today, stands behind the ‘no work no pay law’ as it applies in the country”, said Adesina.