Zimbabwe Doctors Defy Court Order, Enter 43rd Day Of Strike

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa. PHOTO: Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP


Striking Zimbabwe doctors on Monday defied a court order to return to work, saying a pay rise offered by the government failed to meet everyday costs.

Doctors remained home for a 43rd consecutive day, striking for better pay after their salaries were eroded by the country’s spiralling inflation.

Zimbabwe’s labour court ruled the action “unlawful” on Friday and ordered the medics back to their wards within 48 hours.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) announced on Sunday it would lodge an appeal to the Supreme Court.

“We noted the court order but unfortunately we don’t have the means by which to comply,” said ZHDA spokesman Masimba Ndoro on Monday.

“We remain incapacitated… There is nothing we can do when we don’t have the means to go to work and to meet our basic needs,” he told AFP.

The doctors say their pay has lost value by at least 1,500 per cent, a legacy of economic mismanagement under Zimbabwe’s ex-president Robert Mugabe.

His successor Emmerson Mnangagwa has so far failed to redress the situation.

Fuel prices have increased by more than 400 per cent since the start of the year, and the ZHDA said that doctors had to use their savings just to show up to hospital each morning.

Negotiations with the government have been deadlocked since the ZHDA rejected a 60 per cent salary rise offer.

With pay slips worth less than $100 (91 euros) in some cases, they are demanding doctors’ salaries be pegged to the US dollar and have appealed to international bodies to supplement their wages.

“While doctors would want nothing more than to return to work in service of their patients, they continue to be incapacitated and lack the resources to comply with the Labour Court judgement,” said ZHDA in a statement on Sunday.

Nurses at two of the country’s largest government hospitals in Harare last week joined the action and walked quit the wards, according to local media.

Rural teachers also embarked on strike action on Monday with a stay-at-home protest “against underpayment”.

“We urge the government to respect our right to engage in job actions and peacefully protest demanding a living wage,” the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe posted on Twitter.


Resident Doctors Embark On Warning Strike

Resident Doctors Embark On Warning StrikeThe National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has announced a seven-day warning strike to press home their demands for improved welfare and infrastructure in the health sector.

The National President of the association, Mr Ugochukwu Onyebueze made the announcement at a press conference in Abuja, directing all members of the association to down tools with immediate effect.

According to him, the federal government has also failed to implement the agreement it reached on residency training policy last year.

Resident Doctors Strike In Ilorin Over Non-Implementation Of New Salary Scale

Resident DoctorsAbout 12 federal and teaching hospitals in Nigeria have allegedly flouted court injunction and the directive of the Ministry of Health for the implementation of the new salary scale for resident doctors.

The President, Association of Resident Doctors, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Adegboyega Faponle, while fielding question from journalists in Ilorin, said that this was the reason they embarked on an industrial action.

Mr Faponle explained that the hospital management was yet to yield to their demand for implementation of the new salary scale.

For almost two weeks the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital has been without the services of the resident doctors which the hospital management admits has had an effect on the hospital.

However, the Head of Personnel and Training (UITH), Surajudeen Lawal, explained that the insistence of the doctors not to accept the criteria set by the Federal Ministry of Health in the implementation of the new salary structure but insisting on the one set by the Nigerian Medical Association has been responsible for the non-implementation.

Doctors To Begin 1-Week Warning Strike In Ogun

doctorsDoctors under the aegis of National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners, Ogun State Chapter, have threatened to commence a one-week warning strike starting from Monday, March 7 to press home their demands.

‎In a statement issued at the end of the emergency general meeting of the association, last Wednesday, the association said that the strike became imperative after they had explored all opportunities to get the attention of the state government on issues affecting the health system in the state.

The statement, signed by its Chairman, Dr. Oladunni Adetola and the Secretary, Dr. Adetonwa Festus, had it that series of letters were written to the state government on the need to restructure health facilities; shortage of staff and relativity.

The association explained that little or nothing could be achieved in the health sector in the state, considering lack of materials, equipment ‎and good working environment.

The body also identified shortage of staff across all cadres of ‎the health workers, submitting that there had been no new recruitment in the last two to three years, despite the increasing demands on the sector.

NAGGMDP also noted with dismay what it termed the refusal of the state government to respect a circular by the federal government since 2013 on the need for all states to effect the payment of corrected CONMESS to correct an error of over 20 years on the doctors’ salary.

“After series of letters to the Executive Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, both official and personal, as well as sensitization of all other stakeholders, the government has not seen any reason to attend to any of the aforementioned issues ravaging the health sectors.

“Having fulfilled all necessary steps needed to ensure dialogue with the government and at the expiration of the 21 days ultimatum given to the state government with no favourable response, the members of the association have therefore mandated ‎the executive members to declare a one week warning strike starting from March 7 to 13.

“We are not unmindful of the inconveniences this might cause the masses which we greatly regret, we need to affirm our resolution to resolve these issues amicably through genuine dialogue so as to avert any prolonged industrial disharmony in the state,” the statement read.

Lagos Doctors Suspend Strike

Lagos doctorsThe strike by doctors working for the Lagos State Government which began on March 16 has been suspended.

Full services are to resume from 8am on Thursday, March 26.

According to the Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Lagos State chapter, Dr. Babajide Saheed, the suspension of the strike came after what he described as a ”fruitful meeting” between Lagos State Government officials and the Lagos doctors on Tuesday.

Following its congress on Wednesday, the NMA and Medical Guild have set up a committee to ensure the implementation of government promises which include the payment of the withheld salaries.

Public hospitals in Lagos were shut following disagreement over issues which include alleged engagement of doctors as casual workers; the suspension of the training of resident doctors in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and the withholding of doctors’ salaries for May 2012 and between August and September 2014, over the doctors’ involvement in an industrial action.

Lagos Doctors Begin Indefinite Strike

Lagos doctorsMedical doctors working for the Lagos State Government on Monday began an indefinite strike over several protracted issues with the state government.

The Lagos doctors, under the aegis of the Medical Guild, are aggrieved over issues which include alleged engagement of doctors as casual workers and the withholding of doctors’ salaries for May 2012 and from August to September 2014 over the doctors involvement in industrial action.

Meanwhile the state government has described the current strike as illegal, just like the former one.

In a press statement signed by the State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Lateef Ibirogba, the government says it is a fact that those health workers who did not work during the stated period were not paid.

This, Mr Ibirogba said is in line with the “no work no pay rule” policy of the government which is in accordance with international employment practices and the Trade Disputes Act.

He therefore advised the Lagos doctors to resume at their respective duty positions while discussions with the state government are ongoing.

Lagos Government Says Its Not Owing Doctors For Work Done

LASUTH doctorsThe Lagos State Government on Sunday reiterated that it has always paid the salaries of all her employees, doctors inclusive, when due.

Some doctors working in the State Government’s hospitals had early last week staged a demonstration alleging that the State Government owed them an unspecified amount of money covering their salaries for July and August this year.

Debunking the allegation, the Government said the complaint by the doctors refers to July and August 2014 during which period the affected doctors went on strike adding that their salaries were not paid in accordance with the Government’s policy of “No Work, No Pay”.

Government also recalled, with regrets, that the period of the doctors’ strike unfortunately coincided with the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease in Lagos State pointing out that all entreaties to the striking doctors to see reasons and call off the strike were ignored.

In a Statement, jointly signed by Chairman, Health Service Commission, Dr. M.O. Salako and Chairman, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. O. Williams, the State Government said it has promptly resumed payment of salaries of the Doctors since they resumed work.

The Statement, which reiterated that the State Government’s Policy of “No Work, No Pay” was still in force, pointing out that the Policy was informed by the fact that it was unjustifiable for any worker to be paid for work not done, also maintaining that any group of its employees that embarked on strike in contravention of the laid-down procedures governing such actions would be so treated for the period of strike.

Assuring all citizens of the administration’s commitment to its responsibilities of protecting life and property in the State at all times, the Statement reiterated, “Government’s policy of “No work, No pay” remains in force meaning you cannot be paid for work not done”.

Pregnant Women Urge FG To Meet Health Workers’ Demands

resident doctors2Pregnant women in Calabar, the Cross River State capital, are appealing to the Federal Government to meet the demands of the striking health workers in order to avert possible maternal and infant mortality.

The women at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, believe that mothers and children are the worst hit by the strike, considering their vulnerability.

Though few doctors from the hospital are on ground to attend to patients who troop in, patients still complain that the services they are getting cannot be anything compared to what they previously got before the strike, when other medical workers were on ground.

The Chief Medical Director of UCTH, Thomas Agan, also called on the Federal Government as well as the striking union to put the interest of the patients above all other interests and resolve their differences.

Medical Association In Nigeria Suspends Strike

NMA StrikeThe Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has suspended its nearly two months strike.

The President of the NMA, Dr. Kayode Obembe, in  Abuja on Sunday morning, confirmed the suspension of the industrial action that was gradually beginning to take its toll on health care delivery.

He stated that the doctors have agreed to return to work, after the Federal Government assured the Association that it would meet some of their demands.

Dr. Obembe told journalists that doctors would be resuming work on Monday, August 25.

Earlier, the NMA embarked on an indefinite strike on July 1, because the Federal Government had failed to address the demands of the association.

The association was forced to take the action in order to save the health care delivery system from anarchy that is imminent in the health sector.

Many Nigerians had raised fears  that the absence of the medical workers would affect the efforts of the government in tackling the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in Nigeria’s commercial city, Lagos .

Since the index patient of Ebola disease, Patrick Sawyer, died on July 25,  the Lagos State government had pleaded with the medical doctors to come back to work and support the state’s effort to stop the spread of the disease.

Resident Doctors’ Suspension Reminiscent Of Draconian Military Laws- Tope Ojo

Resident doctorsThe Lagos State Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Tope Ojo, has condemned the suspension of resident doctors by the Federal Government, describing it as laws seen only during the “draconian military era” which “gives sad nostalgia”.

He also accused the Federal Government of “neglecting  the key challenges that should be addressed”.

He berated the Federal Government for accusing the resident doctors of performing below average, and reiterated the call for the restructuring of the residency programme to ensure the production of the highest level of medical specialists. This, he added, is part of the 24 demand made by the NMA to the Federal Government.

He said the decision was coming at a wrong time because “there is a high level of inadequacy” in the sector, which had forced some Nigerians to go abroad for treatment, adding that “employment into the residency programme is haphazard. When you pass your primaries, they will be looking for space all around” to accommodate you.

“If you have a residency board, this will be holistically looked at and you will have a placement arrangement that will be handled by this board,” he said.

He emphasised the importance of the resident doctors in the medical sector saying “the residents form the bulk”. “You can have a board where you have four consultants and about 20 residents at different level of training. They participate profusely, deeply and seriously in the training of medical students; which means that there will be no medical training that will go on,” Dr Ojo emphasised.

He also added that the “post graduate resident training has to do with the mid level training of the middle level manpower in the health sector.

“They are people going through a minimum period of six years in different fields,” he maintained.

Dr Ojo also stated that apart from resident doctors conducting over 50 per cent of the tutorials in the medical schools, their contributions in hospitals is vital to the survival of the health sector

He said if the suspension was not withdrawn, “major surgical operations are shut” because “the consultants don’t perform operations alone”.

“The resident doctors prepare patients for the operation from the clinic,” he said, insisting that a neurosurgeon can’t perform an operation with the help of a medical officer.

Dr Ojo, however, called on Nigeria’s political class to patronise Nigerian health institutions and to desist from “picking policies that will shut down operations in the health sector”.

He also noted that the suspension was a calculated attempt by the Federal Government to break the ranks of the NMA, but  he assured that the association “remains stronger”. “Our minimum condition to resume negotiation is for government to reverse this unpalatable decision,” he said.

FG Justifies Sack Of Resident Doctors

Meanwhile the Federal Government in a statement by the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu, justified the suspension of the Residency Training Programme in all federal hospitals, “as part of efforts to reposition the public health sector”.

Professor Chuwku also said that “the quality of training has also progressively declined over the last decade despite recent efforts by the Jonathan Administration to revamp it”.

The Minister also added that the Residency Training Programme in all hospital in recent times had been beset by numerous challenges, including poor performance and unsatisfactory conduct of the resident doctors.

“The terms of admission to the Residency Training Programmes stipulate that either party (employer or employee) may terminate the relationship by giving one month notice or one month salary in lieu of notice.

“Accordingly, all affected doctors will receive one month salary in lieu of one month notice. One of the reasons for employer-initiated determination of the appointment, according to terms of the probationary residency appointment, is unsatisfactory performance by the resident doctor,” he said.

The Minister, however, stressed that “only resident doctors under the employ of the Federal Government are affected. Resident doctors employed by state governments in their hospitals and by private hospitals are not affected”.

NMA Fails To Reach A Decision Over Strike

NMA-logoThe Nigerian Medical Association is yet to reach a decision over whether or not to call off the ongoing strike by doctors working for the Federal Government.

The leadership of the association sat in a meeting lasting several hours at their headquarters in Abuja on Sunday but could not agree on the update to give to journalist who waited for a briefing.

The representative for the NMA told journalists that the association was yet to fine-tune several issues that would determine what their next line of action would be.

He said that an update would be given to the media in 48 hours at which time all disparity would have been settled.

Medical services in public hospitals across Nigeria have been shut down by medical doctors since July 1, leaving many patients who turn up for appointments hopeless.

The Nigerian Medical Association, among other things, demanded the immediate passage of the National Health Bill, appointment of a Surgeon-General of the Federation, the payment of 100,000 Naira hazard allowance for medical doctors and the skipping of level twelve by medical and dental practitioners.