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Should Doctors Be Going On Strike? Doctors & State Government in Deadlock as Hospitals in Lagos Shut Down over Warning Strike



Many would say that doctors have no need to go on strike, that they should never go on strike. They are bound by ‘The Hippocratic Oath’ and should offer their services free-of-charge if need be. Yet, others are of the opinion that doctors, like other employees and service providers have a right to press their grievance with an industrial strike action if need be.

Doctors in state-owned hospitals in Lagos under the aegis of the Medical Guild have withdrawn their services from today, leaving the hospitals deserted and patients unattended to. Despite repeated pleas from the public to both the doctors and the government to avert the strike, both parties have refused to reach a compromise, hence the strike action.

The doctors are on a three-day warning strike to press home their demands for the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, as well as the downward review of excessive taxation, which the government imposed on the doctors.

Vanguard News reports that between August and November 2010 and February and April 2011, doctors in the Lagos State employment withdrew their services to press for the same implementation of CONMESS and other demands. In March, 2011, the Lagos State Government approved the implementation of CONMESS for all doctors in the state and thereafter, the strike was suspended.

However, the doctors say that despite the promises made by the state government to implement CONMESS, the agents of the government have continued to manipulate the agreement to suit their own purpose and CONMESS has not yet been implemented.

Hence from today, state owned hospitals are closed to patients leaving thousands of people with health problems in a quagmire. Some of the affected hospitals are Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Isolo General Hospital, Gbagada General Hospital, Ikorodu General Hospital & Badagry General Hospital.

Furthermore, the uncompromising stances of both parties complicates the issue and it now seems there is no end in sight to their grievance.

Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, told Vanguard News that the state government has continued to fool the doctors with what he described as “flimsy excuses” not to pay the approved and signed salary structure by Governor Babatunde Fashola.

On the other hand, the state government has threatened that doctors who partake in the planned three-day warning strike will forfeit wages accrued to them within the period of the strike in accordance with the Trade Dispute Act. The State Head of Service, Mr. Adesegun Ogunlewe made reference to the provision of Section 43(1) of the Trade Dispute Act, and said it would henceforth be enforced in the state.

As the doctors and governement continue in their grievance, the health of thousands of people is now at risk. These hospitals offer specialist and general out-patient services to a larger percentage of the state’s population. Their rates are usually lesser than what is obtainable at private hospitals.

For those who can’t afford these private hospitals, where do they turn to? Is there any end in sight to these continued grievances between doctors and the Lagos state government? In your opinion, what should be done to avert such strike actions in the future?

Also, what do you think? Should doctors ever go on strike?

Please share your thoughts.

News Source: Vanguard News

Adeola Adeyemo is a graduate of Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from University of Lagos. However, her passion is writing and she worked as a reporter with NEXT Newspaper. She believes that anything can be written about; anything can be a story depending on the angle it is seen from and the writer's imagination. When she is not writing news or feature articles, she slips into her fantasies and creates interesting fiction pieces. She blogs at


  1. LPS

    April 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Misplaced piorities .sighs!

    • Mamo

      April 11, 2012 at 7:00 pm

      May I ask who’s got the misplaced priority(ies) pls?

  2. fatunwase 'wale.

    April 11, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    The right of any group of people, especially professionals, to ventilate their grievances in an industrial action remains inviolate. Though industrial stikes should be the last resort when all other mediatory measures have been employed and have failed to resolve the grouse between disputants, yet it seems to be the only veritable option or alternative that tears open the deafened ears of the Nigerian government; the monosyllabic word which the child-government understands and can relate with! It’s disheartening to know that the Nigerian workers, especially health workers are the poorest paid in the world while politicians and their lazy cronies steal the taxpayers’ monies in their billions! If it works, let them fully explore it. Everybody must share in the comatose state into which the Nigerian society has long drifted.

  3. pynk

    April 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    They should pay them. Most of them earn the measly salaries they get anyways.

  4. Tiki

    April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    The fact that these people gave up years of their lives and huge amounts of money to go through rigorous training, and then spend the rest of these lives keeping people’s bodies together with their souls, often despite abuse and threats and a lot of ungratefulness, is testament enough to their adherence to the Hippocratic Oath. Pay them what needs to be paid. They deserve it.

    • Tiki

      April 11, 2012 at 3:26 pm

      *ingratitude. *hides face in shame*

  5. molly

    April 11, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Its a shame that it has to come to this and while I believe that health workers should be paid what they are due, surely the reason for wanting to be a Doctor which i think stems from a passion to care for people should override monetary issues. Lives should never be put at risk because you are not getting paid enough. When it comes down to it, most of us are not being paid enough anyway but it still does not stop us from going to work everyday? Me tinks not!!

    • pynk

      April 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm

      The health worker’s life isnt at risk being underpaid too? Last i checked these people never declared they were Jesus oh!

  6. molly

    April 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I meant *does is stop us from going to work? *

  7. bettyB

    April 11, 2012 at 7:33 pm

    The Hippocratic oath is about striving to do what is best for the patient. Doctors are not bound to provide free health care or work for pittance. I urge people who believe doctors should “offer their services free of charge if needs be” to wake up from their slumber. Nothing in life is for free. Healthcare in the developed nations is paid for by taxes.

    Yes whilst many doctors are driven by the passion to care for the sick, ones own health and well being is also paramount. In proportion to the years needed to train and all that goes with being doctor, doctors globally are not well paid. It is naive to expect doctors to work for peanuts considering all the effort and work they go through. “Passion” is not going to pay your bills or take care of the family.

    • diamond

      April 12, 2012 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you.

  8. moses olusegun

    April 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    what is due to doctors should be paid in order to avoid descripances. People are dieng in hospitals crying for aids. For you being good governor you have to pay your workers salary as at the due time. Governor fashola you mean alot to lagosians please listen to your people and do what they deserve. Thanks.

  9. kurukere

    April 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Doctors too have families to feed

  10. Doc-toh- bad

    April 12, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    @ molly, pls don’t compare the kind of job u do with the kind of job doctors do. From the moment we enter medical school, we don’t have a life, I’m sure ur job doesn’t entail countless calls, exposure to all sorts of terrible illnesses including HIV, hepatitis etc
    All we want is a decent wage to be able to take care of our families! We r not demanding to be paid like oil workers.
    And the annoying thing is that the govt CAN afford it! They spend money on rubbish and launder the rest. If we keep quiet they wld keep cheating everyone. Look at the state of our govt hospitals for pete’s sake.
    Going on strike is a way of fighting for our rights! Its sad that it must come to this but there is (n) other way!

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