Doctors’ Strike: Lagos Govt Lying —Medical Guild

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Striking doctors in the Lagos State public hospitals have accused the Lagos State  Government of lying over the real issue that led to the strike, saying that  government was only resorting to cheap blackmail.

The doctors were referring to the advertorial placed by the state government in  several dailies yesterday accusing the doctors of refusing to dialogue with the  government and that they had refused to appear before the Committee on the  Development of Pay Policy, Review and Salary Determination in the state public  service.

Vice Chairman, Medical Guild, Dr. Taofeek Majolagbe told P.M. NEWS that the state  government was only resorting to cheap blackmail and lying over the issue at stake  and refused to address the plight of the doctors.

“It is all lies and it is unfortunate that the state government is resorting to  cheap blackmail.  There has not been any offer as at today.  The committee they said  we did not appear before it had already concluded its report by 30 September, 2010.

“We actually met with the committee even though we did not aver to it.  Government  should come out with the report of the committee; that may help to resolve the issue  rather than peddling lies about us,” said Majolagbe.

As for the state government accusing the doctors of refusing to call off the strike  despite intervention by the Oba of Lagos, the governor and prominent Lagosians,  Majolagbe said “what kind of meeting?  Is it the meeting the Oba of Lagos held with  our chairman and told us to go and call off the strike by 7.00 p.m. that day?”

He stated also that the meeting with Governor Babatunde Fashola,  ended with the  governor lambasting the doctors, adding that only said they would never negotiate  with the doctors under pressure.

“They have already told us that they control the media and that they will use the  media against us and go on a media war,” he said, but said the doctors were not  perturbed.

Stating the state government’s position, Commissioner for Information and Strategy,  Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele lamented that the strike had continued until now despite  personal intervention by Fashola, the State House of Assembly, former governors,  elder statesmen, senior medical practitioners and well meaning Lagosians.

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According to Opeyemi, the strike was being prolonged because of the insistence that  all existing Establishment and Civil Service procedures be set aside by the governor  by arbitrarily directing a salary increment for doctors alone to the exclusion of  other professional cadres in the health sector and service wide.

“When recently, the Federal Government, without prior consultation with the other  two tiers of government introduced a specialised salary structure for doctors in its  employ, called CONMESS, some of the associations of doctors in the state, especially  the Association of Resident Doctors and the Medical Guild, began agitations for an  immediate implementation of same structure in Lagos State.”

“The decision of the doctors was without consideration for the directive of the  national body of the Nigeria Medical Association which said no state chapter should  threaten or embark on any strike over CONMESS,” he stated.

The commissioner said the doctors had also refused to appear before the committee  set up by the government to determine a new pay package for all its employees, but  wanted the government to by-pass civil service procedure and meet their needs  immediately.

According to him, “the doctors had refused to negotiate with the committee or make  any representation to it but insisted on the governor single handedly signing a  paper for them or directing by fiat, a wage increase for the doctors alone.

“The governor has consistently stated that he would not be coerced or blackmailed  into acting in an arbitrary manner, noting that even the intransigence of the  doctors and any interest group trying to make political capital out of the  unfortunate development would not make him violate well established public service  rules and law.”

The commissioner stated that rather than blame the government for not negotiating  with the doctors as being mischievously projected, “all men of good will should  prevail on the Medical Guild and the Association of Resident Doctors to call off the  strike forthwith and resume negotiation with the government in the interest of the  good people of Lagos State and the Hippocratic Oath they took as caregivers.”

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

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