Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM



Labour Should Organise Solidarity Actions

Campaign for Democratic and Workers’ Rights (CDWR) supports the struggle of medical doctors for better wage and improved facilities in Lagos state owned public hospitals and condemns in strong term the insensitivity of Raji Fashola’s government.

Doctors in Lagos State owned hospitals have been on strike for over 11 weeks due to Lagos state government’s refusal to pay Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) as agreed last year, the refusal to upgrade facilities in hospitals and the vindictive dismissal of the former chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa for leading the struggle of doctors for improved welfare. We see no reason whatsoever why the Lagos State Government, one of the richest in the country will refuse to pay doctors and other workers decent living wage and improve on the facilities in the hospitals. Rather than meet the demands of doctors, the Lagos state government has resorted into threats to sack all doctors for embarking on strike action.

The Fashola government has also claimed that it was not part of the agreement reached with the federal government citing the usual ready-made but fallacious argument of true federalism that is readily thrown up when the issue has to do with workers. Lagos State government officials/political appointees are all paid jumbo allowances, far more than what workers in the state receive and these jumbo allowances was prescribed by a federal government agency known as the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC). As the Lagos State legislators and executive members collect the outrageous salaries and allowances without recourse to federalism, they deny workers living wage. We therefore ask: is true federalism synonymous to denying workers living wage, affordable and quality health care service to the poor? What has true federalism got to do with providing basic health care service for all that need it?

Doctors have been on strike for weeks with its resultant effects such as deaths and sufferings to those who needed these services, Lagos State have been indifferent, simply because the rich and the ruling elite in Lagos don’t patronize public hospitals- they either patronize big private hospitals in the country or mostly travel abroad for medical attention at tax payers’ expense. The blame of the strike and the effects should be put squarely on the government that is paying little or no attention to facilities in public hospitals and welfare workers.

The CDWR calls on the Lagos State Government to immediately meet the demands of the striking doctors, pay living wage to all health workers and upgrade the facilities in all public hospitals to a standard that will guarantee quality and affordable health care service to the poor and immediately and unconditionally reinstates the former Chairman of the Medical Guild Dr. Ibrahim Olaifa.

The CDWR commends the Lagos state chapter of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) for embarking on a 3-day solidarity strike recently. We hereby call for more solidarity strikes and public awareness campaigns of all doctors professional bodies (NARD, NMA, Medical Guild, etc.) in the state to deepen the struggle by also opening up collaborative activities with other unions in other sectors, particularly ASUU, SSANU, NASU etc., and pro-people civil society organizations for a major day of mass action to press home their demands. We call on all and sundry to join hands in the struggle to rescue public health care from its present collapsing state.

However, medical practitioners and workers must link the struggle for adequate funding and better working conditions in the health sector with the imperative for democratic management of hospitals and health sector in general with elected committees of medical practitioners and communities in order to ensure judicious spending of available resource and efficient running of the sector so that could guarantee quality and affordable health care to the poor working people.