Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM

Doctors Strike in Osun State:

Doctors Strike in Osun State:

DSM Condemns Aregbesola Government’s Threat to Doctors

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), Osun State Chapter hereby condemns the latest seven-day ultimatum issued by the Ogbeni Aregbesola-led Osun State government to doctors in the LAUTECH Teaching Hospital and in other hospitals who are in the employment of the state, to end their strike or lose their jobs. This latest threat by the Osun State government is part of the attempts of the government to bully all sections of the working class into submission against their interests. We call on the doctors and the workers in general to reject this latest onslaught by Aregbesola government. If this threat of the Aregbesola government is allowed to see the light of the day, it will further worsen the already sick health sector in the state.

The doctors have been on strike for over four months due to government’s neglect of their welfare. According to the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), the government has refused to pay them salaries for over four months while the government, for the few periods it has actually paid, the doctors have received only been a fraction of their salaries. Worse still, there is no agreement with the doctors on why and how government arrived at this anti-worker approach to remunerating workers. Furthermore, doctors in the state employment have been denied the nationally-recognized Relativity Pay and CONMESS, yet the same Aregbesola government was quick to implement the exploitative federal tax policy that eats deeply into the salaries of doctors. Worse still, the government has deliberately cancelled or refused to fund the Residency Programme of the resident doctors, which has denied the doctors of vital training processes that will be beneficial for the health sector in the state. Moreover, government has refused to address the pension policy of the doctors.

The implication of these anti-worker policies is the brain drain that has hit the health sector in the state. Moreover, there has been low morale of staff, and more importantly persistent industrial disputes in the health sector in the state. To add insult to injury, the government has chronically underfunded the health sector in the state leading to chronic understaffing and collapse of facilities and services coupled with commercialization of services to the detriment of the poor and downtrodden in the state. That the Aregbesola government, rather than addressing these issues has resorted to high-handedness, bully and threat shows how backward and retrogressive the government is. Just like in other sectors like education and economy, Aregbesola government has destroyed and disrupted the health sector in the state.

We in the DSM Osun State fully support the doctors in their struggle and agitation for better living conditions. It is height of irresponsibility and callousness for the Aregbesola government that has refused to pay doctors to threaten to sack the same doctors who have been denied their legitimate salaries. This is a state that already has huge shortfall of doctors and medical workers, as the Aregbesola government has reportedly not employed new doctors and medical officers for years. The latest threat by the Aregbesola government is an attempt of the government to cut the nose in order to spite the face.

The same state government used workers’ names to collected N34.9 billion-worth bailout from the federal government; yet the same state government refused to offset the salary and pension arrears of workers, including doctors and health workers. On the contrary, the government has been paying an illegal and illegitimate fractional salaries and pensions for workers in the state – an arrangement that is unknown to law. To make matter worse, workers are still owed salaries for months.

It would be recalled that this was Babatunde Fashola-led Lagos State government sacked over 700 doctors in 2012, when the doctors demanded improved working conditions. Aregbesola will fail in this venture just like his political twin brother, Fashola failed in Lagos when he took the same route.

As we in the DSM Osun State commend the doctors and support their struggle, we also call on them and their unions including Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), Osun State Association of Medical and Dental Officers (OSAMDO) and Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to stand firm in their struggle. We call on them to start mobilizing for popular actions including protests, rallies, leafleting, pickets, media campaign and public enlightenment activities to mobilize the public in support of their struggle and demands, in the interest of the people of Osun State. We also call on other in-house health workers unions and the labour movement in the state to show solidarity and join the doctors in actions. The doctors must also consciously reach out and build joint actions with other unions, especially in the health sector, as the surest way of defeating the anti-worker, retrogressive policies of the Aregbesola government in the health sector.

Alfred Adegoke
State Coordinator
Kola Ibrahim
State Secretary