LAGOS State government has pleaded with its health workers currently on strike protesting over their working conditions and the way they have been treated during the coronavirus pandemic to return to work and seek a negotiated solution to their dispute.
In Monday, the Medical Guild in Lagos State embarked on a three-day warning strike unhappy with the working conditions they have had to endure during the coronavirus pandemic. Lagos State has been the epicentre of the pandemic in Nigeria, accounting for about a third of all Covid-19 cases, putting its health workers at risk.
Governor Babajide Sanwoolu has been supportive of health workers, mindful of the extreme sacrifices that healthcare professionals demonstrated during the Covid-19 crisis. Nigeria had had a total of 33,153 cases of coronavirus, with 744 fatalities, of which 12,583 instances have been in Lagos, with the state suffering 173 deaths.
Gbenga Omotoso, the Lagos State information commissioner, said: “It is pertinent to note that the state government expresses extreme disappointment that the guild continued with their warning strike despite a series of engagements aimed at resolving some of the grievances raised. It is worrisome that some members of this noble profession would down tools at a time when their services are mostly required.
“We believe this action is insensitive and lacks empathy which the medical profession epitomises. The state government, therefore, requests the members of the Medical Guild who embarked on a three-day warning strike today to return to work.”
On non-payment of Covid-19 allowances for May and June, Mr Omotoso said the state paid extra-special allowances for frontline workers who are involved directly with the response. He added that the disparity in salary for doctors was because of the skipping policy adopted by some Federal institutions, while with regards to the heavy taxation of health workers, the Personal Income Tax Act is standard to all and calculated based on the tax table.
Mr Omotoso added: “This was put in place before any other state in the nation with payments as high as N672,000 per month, in addition to their normal remuneration packages for each cadre and which represents financial incentives over and above that paid by the federal counterparts. Where discrepancies exist between federal and state allowances, Lagos State has paid the difference to ensure parity and payments for March and April were made on time.
“However, to ensure uniformity and accuracy of the allowances, due diligence measures had to be put in place before the subsequent month’s payments were approved. As we speak, these payments have been approved and being received by the workforce.
“Additionally, all healthcare professionals receive a hazard allowance which has been temporarily increased by 400% at the discretion of Mr Governor periodically during this period. The state government will continue to play its part in ensuring the battle over Covid-19 is won.”
He pointed out that the governor has also approved a recommendation that the Lagos State Health Service Commission employ over 760 health workers, of which at least 400 are doctors. Mr Omotoso added that work has commenced to ensure doctor’s quarters are built in the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and across all state secondary healthcare facilities.