We're Ready For Dialogue —Lagos Doctors

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As workers marked the Workers’ Day yesterday, the striking doctors in Lagos State public hospitals say they are ready to dialogue with the state government in other to reach a truce in the matter.

This is coming as the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, and Trade Union Congress, TUC, during the workers’ day celebration urged the striking doctors to embrace dialogue with the state government in order to save lives of dying patients.

Chairman, Medical Guild, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote told PM NEWS that the doctors had been making attempt to dialogue with the state government, saying that they have even gone through the back door to ensure they fix appointment with government for dialogue.

“The government has refused to dialogue with us. They insist we must answer the queries issued to us first. We have initiated dialogue but government has refused. We are still waiting for the government to dialogue with us,” he said.

According to him, the doctors had even made attempt to meet with Governor Fashola on the matter so that he could hear their own side of the story, but noted that Fashola rebuffed them as he refused any form of dialogue.

Odusote stated that he heard what Governor Babatunde Fashola said in his May Day speech, that he would not be compelled to pay a wage bill he did not bargain for, saying that Fashola signed to pay the new Consolidated Medical Salary Scale Structure, CONMESS wage.

“We are not asking for anything else, we are asking him to pay the one he has already approved for us; we are asking him to implement what he has approved,” he added.

The governor, in his May Day speech had said that “I will like to assert that our government will not be stampeded into paying any wage we are not part of negotiating and which the fund to pay them is not provided for and given to us.

“I recognise that item 34 of the Exclusive Legislative List gives the Federal Government the power to make legislation for a minimum wage. That is where the power ends. We have complied with the minimum wage since January 2011 long before it was signed into law. We should be left to decide what more we can afford to pay over the minimum to any cadre of worker.”

Speaking also at the May Day rally,Chairman, NLC, Lagos State Council, Comrade Idowu Adelakun said, “the lingering industrial crisis between the state government and doctors in the public hospitals is unhealthy for the good people of Lagos and also thwarting the good health policy of the Fashola administration.”

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He recalled that the doctors had earlier embarked on several months of strike over the non-implementation of CONMESS, while urging the government to halt the use of threat in solving the problem.

“It is important for government to employ every peaceful mechanism to resolve the issues for the sake of Lagosians as we are beginning to witness quite a number of deaths in public hospitals,” he said, while appealing to the doctors to sheathe their swords and allow for amicable resolution of the crisis

Also, TUC Chairman, Akeem Kazeem urged the doctors to embrace dialogue with Fashola as a matter of urgency.

Meanwhile, at the May Day rally, Fashola said the issue of power supply remains the quickest way to galvanise the nation’s economy, saying that “while I identify with the underlying philosophy of the power reform plan, I think we must pursue its implementation more aggressively.

“It was supposed to have been completed last year when the privatisation of the power generation and distribution companies will have been finalised, but we are now five months into a new year without a definitive date for conclusion.

“I must also emphasise that the recent euphoria generated in the public discourse about the Federal Government’s statement that states can now distribute power, will soon evaporate unless immediate and positive action is taken to give expression to that intent for the following reasons: The first reason is that no state in Nigeria to the best of my knowledge has the institutional human resource or the financial capacity to set up and operate distribution companies.

“The second reason is that power distribution is an area where the private sector has demonstrated undoubted capacity and experience both locally and internationally; the third reason is that the success of any power distribution company will depend on the ability of states to partner with the private sector.

“The fourth reason is that the intention of Federal Government for states to distribute power is at best no more than a restatement of provisions of Article 14 (b) of the Concurrent Legislative List in the 1999 Constitution as amended which provides that: “A House of Assembly may make laws for the state with respect to the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to areas not covered by a national grid system within that state,” he added.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga