Ondo State Government and striking doctors yesterday disagreed on the outcome of the meetings held to call off the two-week strike.
The doctors, under the auspices of Ondo State Government Doctors Forum, last month began an indefinite strike over the payment of 50 per cent salary for November 2020.
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu had resolved to stop borrowing to augment payment of salaries, which amount to over N5billion, whereas allocation from the federation account is a little over N2billion.
Organised labour agreed to collect 50 per cent salary for November 2020, but the doctors said they were not carried along.
Other demands of the striking doctors are payment of COVID-19 allowance, employment of more doctors, provision of accommodation for resident doctors and implementation of skipping.
Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Jibayo Adeyeye said during an interview that the meetings with the doctors were fruitful, adding that he was shocked that the strike was yet to be called off.
Adeyeye said the governor had explained that the 50 per cent salary payment was only for November 2020.
He noted that the striking doctors knew the sincerity of the government and that it was wrong for them to say the meetings did not yield positive results.
Said he: “As far as the government is concerned, the meeting ended in a conducive atmosphere. With the explanation, the strike should have been called off. It is surprising that the strike is still on.
“The workers agreed to receive 50 per cent and the governor promised to invite the doctors to subsequent meetings with the labour. We told them that it is impossible to treat them differently from other civil servants.
“We promised to pay COVID-19 allowance on February 20. On the issue of skipping, we told the doctors to inform us that if any state implements it, we will do so.”
“The government has attended to their demands. We are doing everything to resolve this crisis. The Finance commissioner is doing everything to ensure money is available to pay the COVID-19 allowance.”
But spokesperson for the doctors, Dr. Olubosede Omolayo, said there was no agreement yet for them to end the strike.
She urged the government to respond to their demands to prevent further decay in the health sector, saying it was unfortunate that the government allowed the strike to drag for long.
Omolayo said the meetings held with the Commissioner for Health, Head of Service and Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu failed to yield the desired result.
She said judicial workers received 100 per cent of their salary, while doctors were paid 50 per cent at a time they were fighting COVID-19 pandemic.
“Some doctors are being owed five- month arrears. It is unfortunate and highly insensitive that this strike has been allowed to last this long by the government without consideration for the health of the people.
“We know that people are dying at home. For the benefit of the citizens, the government should address our grievances.”