Abeokuta and Moses Emorinken, Abuja
Ogun State Governor Dapo Abiodun has flayed last week’s three-day warning strike by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) in Sagamu.
The governor said it was “politically motivated”.
The ARD at OOUTH had embarked on the strike following what they called non-committal stance of Abiodun’s administration towards their demands.
Some of the doctor’s demands included non-implementation of the new minimum wage, hazard allowance, inappropriate remuneration, entry-level and absence of life insurance policy for its members.
Addressing reporters at the weekend in Abeokuta, the state capital, Abiodun said: “I am aware that some doctors at OOUTH embarked on some warning strike last weekend.
This is a development I find rather disturbing and I consider it a breach of trust. I think we have engaged our health personnel, not just the doctors, because the doctors are only a part of the entire team.
“The entire spectrum of health personnel are all at risk – from the cleaner, the nurse, the pharmacist, the consultant in all the hospital – because the protocol now is that they are to consider any patient that walks in as a COVID-19 patient. To that extent, we have provided the required Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and training.
“We reached an agreement with them; they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) which was not done under duress. I met them with my team and we increased the hazard allowances to 200 per cent at that meeting; it increased the hazard allowance to 300 per cent. I appreciate them and I also mentioned the fact that we needed to have an opportunity to sit and dialogue.”
“We all left feeling very fulfilled and believing that we had started a new page. Surprisingly, last weekend, I was informed that they had begun a warning strike.
I find it very irresponsible. I find it difficult to believe that this time, when all hands are on deck as we are trying to think about what to do and how to do it, this may be politically sponsored…”
Also, the Centre for Society Health Advocacy (CSHA) faulted the state ARD to embark on strike over its disagreement with the state government.
It said the reasons adduced for the strike are too weak to justify an industrial action at this critical time of global COVID-19 pandemic.
CSHA said going by the various efforts of Governor Abiodun to address welfare issues for health workers, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, only partisan political motivation could explain ARD’s latest action.
In a statement in Abuja by its Secretary-General, Dr. Godwin Ekpenobi, CSHA advised ARD to rescind its decision and return to work.
Also, health care professionals and associations have urged the Federal Government to intervene in the imminent strike by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
They said the strike has the potential to reduce the gains made and efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives (NANNM) and the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists of Nigeria (AMLSN) backed the ARD’s action.
Both unions said the government needs to stop paying lip service to its promises and do something concrete.
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