STRIKING doctors at the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, (COOUTH), Amaku, Awka, Anambra State, have been told to return to work or face the prospect of losing their jobs.
The State Governor, Willie Obiano reportedly issued the warning in Awka to the doctors working in the state owned teaching hospital after they embarked on full strike following the failure of the government to meet their demands for an increase in monthly salary.
A warning strike and a meeting with the governor had failed to elicit the desired response from the state government.
According to the doctors, their counterparts in other states earn more than the state government was willing to pay them, hence, they went on a full strike to push their demand for a minimum wage.
The President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors in the hospital, Dr. Obinna Aniagboso said the recourse to an industrial action had never been the association’s intention, “but unfortunately, we have been pushed to the wall and bruised for a long time while efforts to get redress have proved abortive.”
The state government opted to pursue a lasting solution through an enduring condition of service that is expected to be passed by the House of Assembly, but the doctors turned down the offer of salary increase in the interim and insisted on continuing with the strike.
The governor issued the threat when the medical examinations, billed to commence Monday in all the departments in the hospital, was disrupted because the consultants, who are also lecturers in the Faculty of Medicine, abandoned their students.
A source said that the Governor was unhappy that the 57 consultants joined the resident doctors in the strike, further grounding services in the hospital. The governor, reportedly reminded the doctors that they have no conditions of service, and that their demand was therefore out of place.
The government had recently begun working out the details of a conditions of service for workers of the hospital in line with what prevails in other teaching hospitals in the country.
There are speculations that the strike was been sponsored from outside the ranks of the medical personnel, who are aware that the governor was working out improved conditions of service for the doctors.
According to other sources, the doctors could eventually push the governor to sack them and in that instance, he “will recruit new doctors who would then enjoy the new conditions of service.”
Aniagboso explained that the doctors were unhappy that the governor was tying their conditions of service to improved internally generated revenue while the doctors are insisting on payment of their full salary to bring them at par with resident doctors in other teaching hospitals.
He insisted that the implementation of the new conditions of service should commence from April 2019, warning that they would no longer continue to receive 50 per cent of their salary because most of the doctors were languishing in penury with no progress for those in residency training.