Lagos gets doctors' deadline over unpaid salaries, as Govt insists on 'no-work, no-pay' rule

By The Citizen

Doctors in Lagos State government-owned hospitals yesterday gave the state government a 21-day ultimatum to pay their four months outstanding salaries or have their services withdrawn from the hospitals.

The ultimatum memo, which was served on Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) and dated December 30, 2014, requested for immediate payment of April and May 2012 salaries, as well as August and September 2014 outstanding that the state government allegedly refused to pay despite several entreaties.

It was, however, learnt that the state government had insisted not owing the doctors, saying the arrears in question were for period the doctors had embarked on industrial action.

The state government had applied the no-work, no-pay policy following the doctors' participation in a nationwide strike called by their parent body - the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA).

The doctors, in the letter made available to The Guardian yesterday, said that the decision to serve the withdrawal notice was taken at the emergency general meeting of December 29, 2014 after several anti-labour allegations were observed in the Lagos health system.

Besides their alleged withheld salaries, the doctors also said that the state government had allegedly continued to employ doctors on casual basis for more than two years and failed to employ resident doctors at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospitals (LASUTH), 'a situation that threatens to annihilate medical education and specialist training in the tertiary institution soonest.'

The Chairman of the Lagos NMA, Dr. Tope Ojo, said that they were aware of a series of victimisation of doctors by the Health Service Commission of Lagos State, adding: 'It was therefore unanimously resolved that the Medical Guild would proceed on withdrawal of services after the expiration of the 21-day notice if all issues remain unresolved.

'That if all issued remain unresolved after one week of expiration of the Medical Guild ultimatum to Lagos State government for the withdrawal of service, the NMA Lagos will be compelled to commence withdrawal of service in all institutions in the state.'

Reacting to the 'no-work, no-pay' rule that was invoked by the state government, Ojo noted that all the states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had complied with the general agreement that salaries should be paid to doctors who participated in the NMA strike for peace and further negotiations, but Lagos had failed to comply.

He alleged that Lagos doctors were singled out for the no-work, no-pay policy of the government as members of the other professional associations, including academic staff unions, were paid their salaries despite embarking on six months nationwide strike last year.

He said: 'Officials of Lagos State University (LASU), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and judiciary workers did not suffer the same fate following the suspension of their industrial action last year. Their salaries were not withheld. We don't want to believe that the governor is being unfair to doctors.' Agency report