Lagos Doctors Dare Fashola, Insist On Strike
ABUJA, Sept 20, (THEWILL) - Contrary to the directive of Lagos State Government asking medical and dental officers in its employment to resume duties, the striking medical doctors in Lagos State resolved at an emergency congress held today to continue with the strike, confirming their unyielding stance about their demands.
The government, claiming it had exhausted all avenues for negotiation, had on Saturday ‘ordered’ them to resume, threatening that refusal to do would translate to abandonment of duties.
But the striking members of the Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) chapter of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) did not observe the directive of the state government. Rather about four hundred of them gathered at an auditorium inside LASUTH for an emergency congress.
The government’s first suit against ARD has been withdrawn but just as the second suit against the Medical Guild was about to be withdrawn, two lawyers asked to be joined in the litigation on behalf of their clients, National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners (NAGGMDP).
This angered the presiding judge, Mr. Babatunde Adejumo, because the striking doctors had agreed to resume work and reopen discussion with the government once the cases were withdrawn, even though they were skeptical of government’s sincerity.
The case was therefore adjourned till September 27, 2010 and forced the ARD to continue with the strike.
"What happened in court confirmed our suspicions that government is not and has never been sincere with us," said a source who pleaded anonymity.
With the perceived insincerity, the members of ARD have decided to continue with the strike until all their demands are met, withdrawing the concessions they had initially agreed to give.
"What we have had so far is discussion, not negotiation. They have only been appealing to us," said Ayobode Williams, the association’s president while addressing journalists after the emergency congress.
Williams said: "We have given a window of concession already by agreeing with the decision to implement the payment by January 2011 but we are asking them to put that in a circular. We have had promises from the government, all of which have never been fulfilled.
"We are not saying they can’t keep their promises but once bitten, they say, twice shy. We are demanding for a circular this time because it is the only legal tender that can get us what we want," he said.
Williams said his association has made only one demand and that is the payment of CONMESS and their arrears withheld as from January 2010.
"We are not asking for government’s favour but we are demanding our rights. And we are ready for negotiation but the letter just stated that the government will pay us whatever it thinks fit and I am not sure we have asked for ‘whatever.’ We have asked for COMESS and arrears from January 2010," Williams said, describing other requests as anomalies that must be corrected.
"Other requests are anomalies that must be corrected, not demands," he said, "the reinstatement of our immediate past chairman, Ibrahim Olaifa, who was unlawfully dismissed, our union dues, and over taxation are anomalies that we demanded be corrected."
The doctors said they do not enjoy staying off work because "the medical school curriculum does not even give the doctors a single day off. So we are used to working every day."
"So we appeal to all Lagosians to understand our plight and we hope the government will accede to all our demands but for now, we are appealing to well-meaning Lagosians to appeal to the Lagos State government to please desist from threats that will aggravate the situation," Williams said.