…..Govt Action, Laughable, Joke-Doctors
The crisis between Osun state government and Medical Doctors in the employment of the state government deepened at the weekend as the government declared the jobs of about one hundred striking doctors vacant.
Addressing a press conference on Friday at the Boardroom of the Health Management Board in Osogbo, Chairman of the state Committee on Health, Dr Simeon Afolayan said that since the medical doctors in the employment of the state government have abandoned their offices in the past eleven months, the government had assumed that they are no longer in its employment.
The LAUTECH branch of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) has described the government action as a joke as the government has not being paying the doctors their full salary.
President of ARD, Dr Owolabi Adeyinka said that the demands of the Doctors include the full payment of their monthly salary and the upgrading of facilities in Hospitals which the government was yet to address.
Medical doctors in the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital, Osogbo and State Hospital, Asubiaro also in Osogbo have since September 2015 embarked on industrial strike to protest the payment of half salary to their members by the state government while they also listed lack of infrastructure and non provision of running grants for the proper running of the Hospitals.
The Nigeria Medical Association had since Wednesday embarked on three day warning strike to caution the government on its threat to sack the doctors while the NMA also staged a protest to the state House of Assembly.
The Government however described the demand of the state striking doctors as impossible in the face of the present economic reality of the country.
Dr Afolayan pointed out that doctors have embarked on different actions bordering on abandonment of their duty post for about 11 months out of which government had even paid them for six month without working.
He added that by civil service regulation, workers who absent themselves from work beyond certain limit are deemed to have resigned their appointments, adding that the rule has taken effect and those doctors, who still want to render services, have been given fresh opportunity to government.
He continued, “The government cannot be seen to be promoting and encouraging lawlessness by a group or individuals. This is a recipe for anarchy.
“That the doctors have abandoned their duty post for about eleven months and the state’s healthcare delivery system is still functioning calls to question their relevance.
Government stated that in the face of the current economic realities, it remains unbelievable that doctors would insist that they would not be bound by the modulated payment regime agreed to by over 39,000 other workers of the state.
Afolayan explained that the decision of the state to live within its means in the light of the shortfall in revenue to the state was taken by all stakeholders including all the representatives of labour unions and government.
He added that the doctors were dully represented on the committee that sits on all the revenues coming to the state and decides what goes into payment of salary and the running cost of government.
According to him, it was a tough choice, which the entire workforce of about 40, 000 workforce agreed to, saying such decision cannot be abrogated by a group whose members are less than 100.
“There is no way we could back down on this, because, in the first instance, other professionals had accepted the agreement reached with labour.
“Doctors were eager to join the general strike called by NLC even though they claim they are not affiliated to NLC but they refused to resume work when the strike was called off. When it is convenient for doctors, they harken to the voice of labour unions only to claim decisions taken by the same union is not bidding on them.
“The doctors have remained recalcitrant despite all entreaties by leading lights of the medical profession.
“They refused the popular agreement, what should government do? How can we reverse a decision accented to and agreed with by over 39,000 workers because about 100 people are dissatisfied?”
He said because of the seeming emergency situation the abandonment of work has created by the doctors, the state would not fold its arms and watch the health sector suffer any hitch as a result of the abandonment.
He said the government has recruited new doctors adding that four of them started work last week in addition to the deployment of doctors from the Ministry of Health, Bowen University, the police, army and others to mitigate what could have been the effect of the works abandonment.
Afolayan called on well-meaning Nigerians to look at the issues involved in the demands of the doctors and see whether they are in tune with the realities of the current worsening global and national economic situation and how it affects Osun.
“The government commends the civil servants and other workers in the state for their loyalty, sacrifice understanding and commitment to the service of the people of the state in this special time and deplores the selfishness and blackmail antics of the doctors.
“In the face of the current economic realities, it remains unbelievable that doctors would insist that they would not be bound by the payment regime agreed to by over 39,000 other workers in the state which was arrived at after a rigorous deliberation on the finances of the state within the context of the national economic realities.
“It is an open secret that Nigeria is faced with critical financial challenges which have made many obligations impossible. The state came up with a very transparent formula for apportioning of its available resources adding that this was agreed to by all categories of workers in the state.”
While assuring the people of the state of the determination of the governments not to allow the works abandonment affect the health sector, Dr. Afolayan said already applications from interested applicants who have signified intention to work under the Osun government are being processed.
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