Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM





We Urge NMA to declare 24-hour Solidarity National Strike Now!!

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The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM) condemns the sack of 788 doctors by the Lagos state government. This action is draconian and unlawful. Doctors embarked on strike when the Lagos State Government refused to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), which was signed into law in September 2009 as a uniform salary scale for all doctors across the federation.

The Babatunde Fashola-led Lagos State government has never hidden its disdain for workers and the poor. Strong-arm tactics are usually employed by the state government whenever workers and ordinary people are struggling against its various anti-poor actions and neo-liberal policies. The doctors, for instance, were forced to resume strike after the government responded to the April 2012 3-day warning strike with intimidation, harassment and threat of dismissal.

This attack and victimization is reminiscent of the December 2011 state-sponsored brutal attack on Lekki residents protesting the illegal tolling at the Lekki-Epe Express Road. The state also deployed armed policemen to the Lagos State University to brutally repress the protest of students against school fees which was outrageously hiked by almost 750% .

DSM considers it shocking and appalling that Lagos state with a population of about 15 million has just about 1, 282 doctors in its employ. This translates to 1 doctor to 14, 545 patients contrary to the global standard of 1 doctor to 1000 patients! Inadequate health workers and lack of basic facilities are responsible for poor health care delivery in Lagos state hospitals and across the federation. This explains why the ruling elite do not patronize public hospitals. Some days back, Fashola flew his sick father to the US leaving poor patients to die!

Working class people and Lagosians should not be deceived by government’s propaganda. The reality is that the action of the Lagos State government is anti-poor and must be condemned by workers and the trade unions. The sack of striking doctors is itself a threat to all workers in the State. If allowed to go unchallenged, the Lagos State government will sooner than later extend the same brutal attacks to other categories of workers.

By demanding the implementation of CONMESS, doctors are not demanding too much. The lowest paid political office holder in Nigeria earns many times more than doctors or any other category of workers. Meanwhile politicians do no work except looting the treasury.

We urge the doctors not to be intimidated but step up the struggle with public rallies, mass protests and demonstrations. However against the background of the collapsed health care infrastructure in the state, doctors have to link their demands for full implementation of CONMESS with demands for adequate funding of health care and the overhaul of facilities in all public hospitals in the State, including employing more doctors.

We urge striking doctors to unite with other category of health workers including nurses who are equally gearing up for a fight back for implementation of Consolidated Health Salary Scale (CONHESS) under a joint program of action like strikes, protests and demonstration. The statement credited to the NMA president that “we note that the current strike action by other health workers under the guise of JOHESU has no bearing on international best practices or professionalism of the health sector in Nigeria, as it is all a calculated attempt to undermine the professional status and position of medical/dental practitioners” is counterproductive. Only on the basis of unity in action can doctors and health workers build a strong movement that can successfully force back the government. The only thing this attitude will achieve is to divide doctors and health workers thus weakening the movement to defeat government cuts on health care. Such attitude will also cause defeat for the struggle of doctors, nurses and health workers for improved pay.

DSM demand the immediate and unconditional reinstatement of all sacked and implementation of CONMESS and CONHESS. We also demand for the provision of free health care and the management of public hospitals by democratically-elected representatives of unions in the health sector and communities. We call for various solidarity activities including a 24-hr national strike and mass actions by the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Trade Union Congress (TUC), as well as pro-masses organizations not only to compel the state government to reverse the sack of doctors but also to defeat its growing attacks on the democratic and economic rights of the working people and youths in general.

Once again the attack by the ACN – a supposedly progressive party – on striking doctors raises the question of a political alternative that can really bring genuine liberation from the tyranny of the ruling class for the workers and ordinary people. All political parties (PDP, ACN, LP, APGA, CPC etc.) have shown over and over again that they all stand for the interest of the rich against the interest of workers and poor. Never mind their pretentious opposition to each other, all these political parties are presiding over one attack or the other against the interests of workers and poor.

It is time to kick these parties out of power and replace them with an alternative party that genuinely stands for the interests of workers and the poor. This is why the DSM has formed the Socialist Party of Nigeria of Nigeria (SPN) – a party that stands against privatization, deregulation and all other neo-liberal and anti-poor parties that marks all other political parties. Join the SPN today