Sanwo-Olu, NMA disagree on doctors’ strike

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Medical Association have disagreed on the three-day warning strike embarked upon by the Medical Guild in the state.

Sanwo-Olu, in a statement on Tuesday, said the demands of the doctors were being looked into, but the NMA said the state government should have listened to the doctors’ demands before the ultimatum given it expired.

The governor said health workers’ allowances had been approved and paid, adding that his administration would always prioritise the welfare of workers in the state.

He stated, “One of the first things we need to understand is the responsibility of the government to cater for the welfare of all workers. I have met with health workers in the Infectious Disease Hospital and I asked about their well-being; they are said they were doing fine. I have the overall responsibility to ensure that all the state’s entire workforce, be it in the public or private sector, are doing well.

“Personally, I am not upset about the warning strike embarked upon by the Medical Guild. The action is not anything to grieve about; it is because of a lack of adequate communication. Disputes are also natural in human relationships. People might see things differently from the way others do see it.

“The first thing they said is that we owe some workers hazard allowances. For the benefit of the public, our government is the first, in March, that started paying hazard allowance to our entire health workers, almost 20,000 of them. We increased the hazard allowance by 400 per cent and this is verifiable.”

Sanwo-Olu added that the disagreement on tax issues had been resolved, while efforts were ongoing to recruit doctors to replace those, who had exited the services of the state government.

On doctors’ residential quarters, the governor said the state was discussing with a private firm to develop a doctors’ quarter at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital.

The Lagos NMA, in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman and Secretary, Dr Adetunji Adenekan and Dr Ramon Moronkola, respectively, said, “The NMA has closely monitored the developments surrounding the ongoing industrial dispute between Lagos State-employed doctors under the auspices of the Medical Guild, and the Lagos state Government.

“We are aware of the extension of the ultimatum set by the Medical Guild for the LASG to address her demands. Indeed, we were optimistic that the window would be explored by both parties to critically and dispassionately address the demands of the Medical Guild.

“Sadly, that was not the case. The Medical Guild declared a three-day warning strike on Monday after what appeared to be an unwillingness of the Lagos State Government to address her demands. It is, however, surprising that the same strike action elicited a rather robust response from the state government in the form of a press release.

“Why was the two-week window not explored for robust engagement with the Medical Guild in order to avert this avoidable disruption of the health system in the state?”
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