The Lagos state government has insisted on its no work, no pay policy, criticising doctors in its employ for embarking on strike at will.
Alleging that the doctors abandoned Ebola patients during the outbreak of the highly contagious Ebola virus in the state, the government said the situation would have been disastrous without the intervention of foreign health workers.
The government said it will do all within its power to ensure that public health institutions continue to function and health workers who are willing to work are protected.
There has been disagreement between the health workers and the government over salaries withheld as a result of previous strikes that they embarked upon.
On March 8, the doctors issued a 10-day ultimatum to the government to pay all outstanding monies.
However, the doctors commence an indefinite strike on Monday over failure of the leadership of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) to meet with Babatunde Fashola, governor of the state, to resolve issues bordering on their welfare.
Biyi Kufo, chairman of the Guild of Doctors in Lagos, directed all members of the association to stay away from work.
“Lagos State Government (LASG) refuses to embrace last minute interventions by NMA national president and secretary,” read a statement issued by Kufo.
“All members (without exclusion) are to proceed on indefinite strike… No clinics, no general outpatients department (GOPD) and no elective surgeries. Emergencies/critically ill patients only will be attended to.”
But the government described their demands as unjust, saying it would be counter-productive to use taxpayers money to pay doctors during the periods that they abstained from work.
“It has come to the attention of the state government that some doctors under the aegis of Medical Guild have commenced yet another strike action on account of the non-payment of their wages during the period of their previous strike,” Lateef Ibirogba, Lagos state commissioner of information, said in a statement.
“It is noteworthy that the state government pays salaries using taxpayers’ money. Using funds contributed by taxpayers to pay persons who deprived the same taxpayers of care and caused them untold suffering and death is not only in contravention of law, it further goes against the dictates of good conscience.
“As if this abandonment of sick patients was not bad enough, it took place at a time of national emergency when the Ebola virus broke out in Lagos. It was foreign doctors and volunteers, that came to our aid to start the process of combating the virus in a commendable humanitarian gesture.
“It was therefore imperative that allowances be paid to them, rather than to doctors who chose to keep off their duty post during a period of such national health emergency despite several entreaties made to them.”