Doctors’ industrial dispute

Lengthy strike action is no longer a big deal in Nigeria. Education and health sectors in the country pull the strings anytime they wish. I am all for people to voice out their grievances and ask for appropriate entitlement from the government, but the way industrial strike is done in Nigeria devoid any logic, one need not look too deep to see this.

This is about Osun state doctors. They have been on strike now going to five months. The question is, if a role is vacant for a whole five months, does one still feel indispensable?

Of recent, I have a change of heart regarding our doctors, they did incredible job at the teaching hospital to keep my mother alive and I am grateful for their handwork throughout my mother’s stay there.

About a year ago while with my sister, she received a text from a doctor reminding her of my mother’s checkup – I could not believe one could get such a ‘star’ treatment from a state clinic, that is commendable.

Now that is out of the way.

Why would anyone walk away from their job, then start a dialogue with the government? Why can’t they stay on the job, have delegates to work on the issue and if government turned deaf ear, then select a day to protest with advance warnings?

In Nigeria, quite a lot of our doctors have private practice, even since I was very little, people only go to government hospital for serious illness otherwise most people go to private clinics.

Osun doctors palaver:

On salary:

  • Started in August 2014, staff including doctors were owed up to 8 months salary. July 2015, the state received bailout from the federal government and decided to pay half salary.
  • By September 2015, doctors went on strike to show they are unhappy with half pay for full time work.
  • Ogbeni Aregbesola stopped paying salary altogether from November. This is only fair, why would anyone want to get paid when not working? I do not support owing salary and neither will I ever see any sense in demanding pay for months on end for no work.

Pension scheme:

Doctors are not sure that the governor is depositing their pension deductibles into appropriate accounts. Fair enough, this is a matter of transparency that need not five months off work to resolve. It is a pity that we don’t have a universal rule around pension.

Foreign doctors taking Nigerian jobs in Nigeria:

Doctors are apparently not happy that Governor Aregbesola is working together with Cuban doctors.

“You can imagine; how can a governor in 21st Century Nigeria, in a ‘change’ environment, bring people from Cuba to come and manage our health care system? Is he taking us back to the colonial days?”  Dr. Suraj Ogunyemi

I sense entitlement here, it goes to show rottenness of the industry. I wondered if Dr Ogunyemi knew the number of Nigeria trained doctors in diaspora, that is something to think about.

General public do not care where their doctors came from, as long as they get well is all that matters. And to be treated on the soil is more the better for everyone.

By the way, Cuba has incredible global medical record. I actually commend the governor for creating relationship with them – lots can be learned from their team.

While the talk about government owning salary is absolutely important to iron out, government both at the state and federal level need to put an end to this attitude of professionals demanding pay for idle days. Why should anyone feel entitled to the job they walked away from for months?

On government owing salary – It is just plain wrong and counter-productive. This is one of the reasons our education and health systems are in shambles. When salaries are not paid, morale is low, people seek alternative income and still count on them been paid regardless of the length they were home for.

Eventually, the docs will return to work, get paid, the most affected people remain the same – the general public.

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