Strike: Sanwo-Olu urges doctors to resume work

Tochi Juliet

Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday appealed to the striking doctors to return to work.

Babajide Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, described as unfair and opportunistic the decision by doctors in the state to go on strike.

He urged them to call off their ongoing three-day warning strike, especially as their two months COVID-19 allowance arrears had been paid and other concerns being addressed.

The Governor attributed the primary cause of doctors’ strike to inadequate communication and understanding between the two parties.

He explained that the cause of the delay in payment was because of the enumeration, which his administration had to carry out to ensure that only those eligible received it.

The governor spoke when he fielded questions from journalists at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, where he commemorated the year 2020 Tree Planting Day and commissioned a 36-chamber morgue donated by IHS Towers to the state government.

He said: “Grievances are natural in any organisation and it will start and end on the table. It is rather unfair and unfortunate that any of us, especially the doctors at this time, would want to take an opportunistic approach because of the pandemic.

I think it is rather unfortunate and utterly condemnable and I believe I owe the system as the Chief Incident Commander to express and say to you to come back to work.

I am still your governor, resume back to work, and whatever the issues are, we will sort it out. I am supposed to be a father to all, and there is no better engagement that we can have but on the negotiation table.”

The Governor, who said he was not upset by the warning strike, said he had been incredibly supportive of health workers being mindful of the extreme sacrifices that healthcare professionals are demonstrating in the COVID-19 response.

“We are currently rotating our health workers who are engaged in providing care at the isolation facilities. They are not being dismissed; this is wrong information.

Healthcare professionals are returning to their primary posting for the following reasons:

To reduce fatigue and burnout among health workers, build capacity for treatment of COVID-19 across the health workforce and as well ensure that as many health workers as possible benefit from the additional allowances.”

The COVID-19 additional allowance, which is different from hazard allowance that the government had earlier increased by 400 per is for all health workers.

However, he explained that the Coronavirus additional allowance was for only frontline workers at the isolation centres, “but it became an all-comers affair which was becoming a drain on the state’s purse, hence the enumeration”.

On the issue of shortage of health workers, the Governor said:

“We have approved the recruitment of 760 health workers, of which 400 are doctors alone. Even the capacity to identify the 400 doctors is also a challenge, and that process has started.

It is only the health workers and teachers that have that standing rule to replace upon retirement. I have approved, and the process has started with the health service commission.”

Other issues that led to the strike like taxes, residential quarters for doctors, the Governor said were being taken care off, and the doctors are aware of it.

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