By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Chioma Obinna & Monsur Olowoopojo
The leadership of Medical Guild in Lagos public hospitals yesterday announced the suspension of the 14 weeks old strike for a period of five days to allow the state government implement the “mutual agreement’” newly reached at their last meeting.
Also, there were indications that the erstwhile and embattled chairman of the Guild, Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa, who was sacked over the role he played at the earlier strike may be recalled following government’s intention to review the sacked doctor’s case.
The medical doctors in Lagos public hospitals under the aegis of Medical Guild embarked on an indefinite strike on August 16, 2010 to demand a 100 per cent implementation of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, among others.
The motion to suspend the strike was moved by Dr. Adebowale Adekoya, Head negotiating team.
Addressing the media, Chairman of the state Medical Guild, Dr. Ayobode Williams, who announced the suspension at the Malaria Research Centre, MRC Hall of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH, Ikeja, said the decision to suspend the strike was reached by members at a congress in order to allow the state government fulfill their own part of the bargain.
He said the state government accepted to implement the new “mutual agreement” within 72 hours but the guild is giving the state government up till Friday, November 26, to allow them more time for all arrangements to be concluded.
Williams said if government fails to honour the agreement within the agreed time, congress would reconvene on Friday to take appropriate decision and if government was able to keep to the deal, members would meet sometime in mid-February 2011 to review the salary payments and arrears among others.
He said: “At this point, the strike has been suspended and work resumes tomorrow, (today) November 22, 2010 in all medical facilities and we assure Lagosians to give them our best services.”
Williams who refused to disclose the “mutually agreement” with the government when asked, said “there is very good understanding between the doctors and government and we are sure they will live up to their responsibilities. We are waiting for them to live up to their responsibilities. A new understanding has been reached and there is a paper to that effect.”
However, further to the meeting held on Friday November 19th 2010 at the office of the Head of Service, Lagos State, the agreement paper sent to the Guild by the state government read thus:
“A; With effect from January 2011, the state government will implement the mutual agreement on wage review which will place doctors in the state health institutions on the same level with officers in other health institutions.
B. “Based on the Medical Guild request the state government has significantly reviewed Doctor Ibrahim Olaifa’s case towards a positive outcome.
C. “The Medical Guild request for the payments of salary arrears will be considered with the same spirit as the implementation of salary review.
D. That the request for the payment of withheld salaries, September and October 2010 is currently being reviewed with a positive outlook.
E. “The complaints by the Guild on arbitrary taxation will be reviewed and corrected.
F. The issue of check_up dues for medical guild and resident doctors has been resolved with the payment of outstanding deductions on behalf of the two associations
G. “No officer will be victimized for his involvement in the strike action.
“11, in view of the above, the Guild is thereby implored to call its congress and suspend the strike.”
It will be recalled that recently, the state government employed 155 new medical staff to provide healthcare services to the people of the state.
The state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris disclosed this while addressing the new doctors at the induction ceremony held at the complex of Lagos Island Maternity Hospital, tasking the doctors to discharge their responsibilities in line with the spirit and letter of the oath to which they swore.
Of the 155 medical officers newly employed, 10 were medical consultants including Pharmacists and Doctors that are charged with the responsibilities of operating at the state secondary healthcare sector.
Idris, added that the reason behind the employment of the new doctors “is to ensure the provision of healthcare service to the people and residents of Lagos State. The main duty of the newly hired doctors will be centred on strengthening of the state secondary healthcare sector, which includes General Hospital”.
The congress which was attended by over 200 members also had Olaifa in attendance.
When Vanguard asked for his comment on the development, he retorted: “i will rather not say anything on the matter because there is a case in the court, i instituted against the state government. I don’t want to pre-empt justice.
“I am sure at a later date. I will make appropriate public statement on it.”
At the press time efforts to get the state governments reaction was unsuccessful as the officials contacted refused to make any immediate comment.