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Strike: Ondo doctors prepared to negotiate- NMA

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Ondo State says it is open to negotiation on its ongoing industrial action over the payment of half salaries to its members by the state government.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Gov. Oluwarotimi Akeredolu had informed labour leaders that borrowing to augment payment of salaries was no longer sustainable hence the payment of half salaries to state workers.

Doctors in the state had rejected the government’s stand, saying they could not survive on 50 per cent salary.

Dr Stella Adegbehingbe, the NMA Chairman in the state, told NAN on Monday in a telephone interview that doctors in the state-owned health facilities could no longer accommodate the non-payment of their salaries, adding that the last time they received salaries was in February.

“As of today, Aug. 2, the last time we received salaries was in February. What doctors are demanding is 100 per cent salary payment. That is the position of doctors in Ondo,” she said.

Asked if there was room for negotiation with the state government, Adegbehingbe said that ‘there is no problem about negotiation. When they call us, we are ready, anytime’’.

Speaking on the strike directive given by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), she said that there might be no major effect in the state since the NMA had been on strike for over a month.

Also speaking to NAN, Dr Tope Olagbe, the Chairman of NARD in the University of Medical Sciences, Teaching Hospital (UNIMEDTH), Ondo, stated that doctors were not working on percentage, therefore, they could not entertain half payment of salaries.

“Currently, all doctors in Ondo State, those on residency training and those working in General Hospitals and Specialist Hospitals have been on strike for over a month now.

“The state government has been paying percentage of salaries. Doctors are not working on percentage. Even doctors in the state are inadequate, having one doctor in a situation and place that requires 10 doctors.

“The work load is too much on doctors and despite this the government is offering percentage payment,” he said.

Dr Tope Olatilu, the Chairman of NARD in the Federal Medical Centre, Owo, noted that the directive given by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the association was binding on all its members.

“We are 100 per cent compliant because the decision was reached by at the NEC level of the association. NEC consists all chapter chairmen, as well as national officers of NARD. It is a unanimous decision. It is not negotiable because it was taken by all of us,” he said.

He added that there was no consideration given to the management of the FMC in attending to special or serious patients.

“Our members are not working as expected and there is no consideration to attend to anybody since it is not a local chapter’s decision.

“Other doctors are still on the ground though NARD members constitute about 70 per cent of doctors in the FMC. The other doctors will definitely be at their duty posts,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary, Ondo State Hospital Management Boar, Dr Niran Ikuomola, when contacted, told NAN to direct its questions to the state Ministry of Health.

All efforts to speak with Mrs Folukemi Aladenola, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, proved abortive, as she would not pick calls.

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