The management of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and the hospital’s Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) have expressed opposing views on an ongoing strike.
The management of the hospital in a press statement made available to PREMIUM TIMES on Thursday said the striking doctors had agreed to embrace peace and suspend the strike.
The statement signed by the spokesperson of the hospital, Kelechi Otuneme, said the resolution was reached by both parties.
According to Mr Otuneme, the management of LUTH held an emergency meeting with the doctors on Thursday about the two-day warning strike.
He said the meeting was called by the chairman of the board of the hospital, who was represented by Bashir Bolarinwa.
The ARD, however, described the statement by the hospital spokesman as misleading.
The General Secretary of the association, Jubril Kuku, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone interview that although an emergency meeting was held, there was no decision to suspend the strike.
The ARD in LUTH on Wednesday embarked on two days warning strike over shortage of doctors, unpaid salaries and victimisation of medical doctors of all cadres by the hospital management.
Resident doctors are doctors who already have a basic medical degree and are now working on a post-graduate degree.
They are often employed and trained by a hospital. They are the major hub of Nigeria’s tertiary hospitals as they are the ones who mostly attend to patients.
The LUTH doctors, under the auspices of the ARD, had staged a peaceful protest within the hospital premises. This was part of their actions to show their grievances to the management.
They also threatened to embark on an indefinite strike action should the management fail to comply with their demands.
Some of the placards carried as displayed on the association’s Twitter handle included ‘I have been working for four months and no salary,’ ‘Doctors are endangered please save us,’ ‘SOS save drowning LUTH doctors,’ ‘light up LUTH, we are robbed and attacked,’ ‘We are overworked and underemployed’.
The hospital management in response to the doctors said it has implemented some of their demands. It said it is still executing some of the issues raised by the doctors that are within its purview.
Mr Bolarinwa said that efforts would be intensified to ensure the implementation by the federal government of the other issues that are beyond the hospital management.
He advised that the doctors should submit a list of all their demands to the management board for a holistic discussion at its next meeting, scheduled for June 2019.
“At the end of the meeting, both parties agreed to embrace peace and suspend the strike,” he was quoted as saying in the hospital’s statement.
Mr Kuku in response to the management’s statement said the present strike action is a two-day warning strike.
He said it began on May 22 with a protest and that May 24 is the second day of the warning strike which will end by 8:00 a.m. on May 25.
Mr Kuku explained that if that was the reason why the management said the strike has been suspended, then that is misleading.
This, he said, is because most of their grievances are yet to be attended to.
“We all want peace to reign in the hospital. However, there was never a decision to suspend the strike at the meeting.”
According to Mr Kuku, the decision to suspend the strike can only be decided by the congress and not just the executives of the association.
He explained that the strike in question is the notice of an indefinite strike which was given to the management on May 17, after the ARD-LUTH Congress had its emergency general meeting (EGM).
“We also gave a concurrent 15-day notice from the day of that EGM for indefinite and total strike action if the demands of the association are not met,” he said.
Mr Kuku said although the executives of ARD-LUTH are also part of the congress, it is only the congress that can decide on whether or not it still wants to proceed on strike action.
He said that decision will only be taken at such forum and none of such meetings has held since the EGM on May 17.
“I can confidently tell you that no such decision to suspend the coming indefinite strike action has been made.
“It will be a breach of the Constitution of the ARD-LUTH (which the Executives have sworn to protect at all times) if they single-handedly change a decision made by the congress,
“The notice for the indefinite strike action as issued in our May 17 EGM communique lapses and takes effect on June 3.
“The congress shall meet again on this day to appraise the level of implementation of the demands of the association by the LUTH management and take a decision from there,” he said.