By NBF News
Click for Full Image Size

The Lagos State Government has directed all striking medical and dental officers in her employ to resume duties unfailingly tomorrow.

It said any doctor who fails to abide by this directive would be presumed to have abandoned his or her duty post and was no longer interested in working with the state government.

In a press statement issued on Saturday and signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, the government said it has to act now in pursuit of its commitment to the provision of quality public healthcare to the people of Lagos State, adding that the strike could no longer be justifiably continued because all avenues for negotiations had not been exhausted.

Shedding light on the state government's position, the commissioner stated that sequel to meetings personally chaired by Governor Babatunde Fashola during which it came to light that discontinuance of the case in court will make way for continuation of negotiations through the appropriate wage committee set up by the state government, a directive was given to that effect.

According to the commissioner, the decision to withdraw the case, to make for continued negotiation is also in line with the directive of the national body of the Nigerian Medical Association, which in a letter to the governor dated August 30, 2010 and jointly signed by the President, Dr. Omede Idris, and Secretary-General, Dr B.M Audu, stated that it had directed all affiliate bodies of the NMA, particularly NARD to withdraw all threats of impending strike on the issue of CONMESS.

Bamidele further stated that the NMA in its letter to the governor also stated that it had 'directed all state branches of the NMA currently on strike over CONMESS to return to work immediately and withdraw all threats of strike action on their State Governments based on CONMESS.'

Based on the foregoing, the commissioner said the strike by medical doctors has no reason to continue.

While giving insight into the development, he said when the leadership of the Medical Guild and Association of Resident Doctors declared the strike, the state government called a meeting with the relevant groups among the medical and dental officers, with the intention of resolving the matter amicably.

The commissioner added that while medical doctors harped on the payment of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), as it is, the government informed them on the recent proliferation of salary structures at the federal level and explained that the governor had already constituted an all-inclusive Pay Policy Review and Salary Determination Committee in the state which was inaugurated on August 16, 2010.

'Rather than participate in this holistic strategy that would cater for all employees, the professionals and even political office holders in the state, the medical doctors remained uncompromising and unyielding,' Bamidele said, .

Their action, according to him, compelled the state government to file a suit against them at the National Industrial Court (NIC), adding that despite the pronouncement of the presiding judge for the doctors to suspend their strike action and engage government in further negotiations, they barely suspended the strike for six days – August 22 to 27 – and resumed the strike on August 28.