The rift between striking doctors under the employment of the Lagos state government and their employers seem to be getting even wider. Rather than make efforts to resolve their grievances and return back to work, the Lagos state government is severing the relationship between them and the doctors.
In what can be described as one of the largest layoffs in the state’s public service, the Lagos state government has dismissed the 788 doctors who participated in a three-day warning strike between April 11 and 13, 2012 and further announced the employment of 373 doctors for immediate deployment in the public hospitals while recruitment continues.
The state government in a statement signed by the Head of Service, Mr Adesegun Ogunlewe announced that the striking doctors were sacked following their refusal to answer to queries to explain why they were absent from work without leave and without the due observance of the rules and regulations guiding strikes and industrial actions in the State’s Public Service.
316 of these doctors were working with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital while the remaining 472 were from other hospitals in the State.
On what made the strike illegal, the statement noted, among other things, that the doctors only gave the State Government 24 hours notice “as against the time-tested and statute-bound processes and procedures for declaration of industrial disputes”.
One of the letters Tagged: “Dismissal from Services” and signed by the Chief Medical Director, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Professor David Oke, reads: This is to inform you that at the Personnel Management Board (disciplinary committee) meetings which held between Tuesday 24th and Thursday 26 April 2012, a case of misconduct to wit absence from duty without leave or reasonable cause between Wednesday 11th and Friday, 13th April 2012, was established against you.
“You are also found guilty of insubordination for failure to respond to lawful queries issued to you. The committee therefore recommended your dismissal from service. In accordance with the provisions of the civil service rule, Nos: 04502,04507 & 04508, the board has approved your dismissal. Therefore, I hereby convey your dismissal from Lagos State service with effect from Friday 4th May 2012. You are by this letter advised to hand over all government properties in your possessions to the office of Chief Medical Director of Lagos State University.”
The Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Olumuyiwa Odusote, confirmed that the striking doctors had been sacked. He said that the state government had given all the doctors letters of termination of appointment for failing to reply the three letters of query and a letter of summons asking them to appear before the personnel management board on April 24.
Odusote said, “I just received the termination letters for doctors in LASUTH. Other doctors in other public hospitals have received the dismissed letters signed by the chief medical directors of their various state hospitals. It is actually dated the 4th of April, but they sent it to our secretariat on Monday morning. It takes immediate effect. We are to vacate the premises immediately, even our secretariat.”
Reacting to this Mr. Odusote, condemned the state government action, describing it as “insincerity on the part of the state government.”
“We are going to see the implication of this dismissal immediately. The NMA and the Medical Guild will definitely react to this unjust action of the Lagos State Government as it makes history today by laying off a major workforce in its health sector.”
Also, the NMA has threatened to shut down health services in Lagos if government fails to retract its decision after a proposed meeting with the State government within 24 hours.
After an emergency congress in Lagos, the State Chairman of NMA, Dr Temiye Edamisan described the government action as draconian and undemocratic and most obscene by any government.
“We are not in a military regime we understand it but share the toga of military. They are still behaving as if they are in military. If they do this to the doctors and they survive, they will do it to the other workers in the health team. They have turned everybody as their slaves because they think they are so big now that people should become their slaves. Go and see the taxi drivers who have become their slaves.”
Asked the next line of action, he said: “We are going to wait. Forget about the sack letter. We have gone this road before. This is déjà vu. We know this has happened before we are not moved. The person who wrote the sack letters will find reason to withdraw them later. What is most important is that Lagos state wants to casualise medical profession which is an insult to the profession. We hope that no doctor will fall prey to that. If they fall prey they will regret it. One, the Lagos State government will turn them to cleaners in the hospital.”
What do you think about this new development? Will the doctors succeed in reverting the decision of the Lagos State Government? And if they don’t, what fate awaits the new doctors that have been employed by the Government?
Please share your thoughts.
News Source: Punch | Vanguard