The Lagos State Government has directed all striking Medical and Dental Officers in her employ to resume duties unfailingly on Monday, 20th September, 2010. It said any Doctor who fails to abide by this directive would be presumed to have abandoned his or her duty post and was no longer interested in working with the State Government.

In a press statement issued on Saturday and signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Opeyemi Bamidele, the government said it has to act now in pursuit of its commitment to the provision of quality public health care to the people of Lagos State, adding that the strike could no longer be justifiably continued because all avenues for negotiations had not been exhausted.

Shedding light on the state government’s position, the commissioner stated that sequel to meetings personally chaired by Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN) during which it came to light that discontinuance of the case in court will make for continuation of negotiations through the appropriate Wage Committee set up by the State Government, a directive was given to that effect.

According to the commissioner, the decision to withdraw the case, to make for continued negotiation, is also in line with the directive of the national body of the Nigerian Medical Association which in a letter to the Governor dated 30th August 2010 and jointly signed by the President, Dr. Omede Idris and Secretary-General, Dr B.M. Audu respectively, stated that it had directed all affiliate bodies of the NMA, particularly NARD to withdraw all threats of impending strike on the issue of CONMESS.

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Additionally, according to the Commissioner, the NMA in its letter to the Governor also stated that it had “directed ALL state branches of the NMA currently on strike over CONMESS to return to work immediately and withdraw all threats of strike action on their State Governments based on CONMESS.”

Based on the foregoing, the Commissioner said the strike by medical doctors has no reason to continue.

The Commissioner, while giving an insight into the development stated that when the leadership of the Medical Guild and Association of Resident Doctors declared the strike action, the State Government called a Meeting with the relevant groups amongst the Medical and Dental Officers; with the intention of resolving the matter amicably.

The Commissioner added that while medical doctors harped on the payment of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), as is; the State Government informed them on the recent proliferation of salary structures at the Federal level and explained that His Excellency, the Governor had already constituted an all-inclusive Pay Policy Review and Salary Determination Committee in the State which was inaugurated on the 16th of August, 2010.

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Mr. Bamidele said, ‘rather than participate in this holistic strategy that would cater for all employees, the professionals and even political office holders in the State, the medical doctors remained uncompromising and unyielding.

Their action, according to him, compelled the State Government to file a suit against them at the National Industrial Court (NIC) adding that despite the pronouncement of the Presiding Judge for them to suspend their strike action and engage Government in further negotiations, they barely suspended the strike for six days – Sunday, 22nd to Friday, 27th August 2010; and, in outright contravention of Court Order and directive by their national body, resumed the strike on Saturday, 28th August 2010.

“As a Government, we are not unaware of the Hippocratic Oath as entrenched by the Nigerian Medical and Dental Council (NMDC) and we are not unmindful of the position of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) as communicated to the Governor and published in The Punch Newspapers of Monday, 6th September, 2010” the Commissioner stated.

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The Commissioner, however, commended some medical doctors who had been coming to work regularly despite the threat of the Congress of Medical Guild adding that Government would at the appropriate time show commendation and appreciation for them to know that their sacrifice would not go unnoticed while the principle of no work, no pay would also appropriately apply.

The Lagos State Government, the Commissioner said, is also immensely grateful for the understanding and forbearance shown so far by the good people of the State adding that Government remains unequivocally committed to acting in their best interest at all times.