Ondo resident doctors protest unpaid salaries amid COVID-19 pandemic
•Issue seven-day ultimatum to state govt
Resident doctors of the University of Medical Sciences Teaching Hospital (UNIMEDTH), Ondo State on Friday, issued a seven-day ultimatum to the state government to pay their five months salaries or they embark on strike.
The protesting resident doctors who alleged the state government of insincerity in the payment of their salaries despite all assurance from the state government.
Armed with placards of various inscriptions, which include “Our Salary Is Our Right, Not A Gift,” “We Work On Empty Stomach Not Knowing When Next Will Come,” “We Are Asking For What We Have Worked For,” “A Hungry Doctor Is A Danger To The Society.”
The medical workers stated that they had to cry out when they can no longer cope with the situation of things, and resolved to embark on strike if the government fail to pay their salaries
The doctors lamented that despite being in the frontline in waging war against the deadly COVID-19 disease, the state government never appreciated their efforts and threatened to down tools, saying they cannot continue to work on an empty stomach.
They lamented that they are constantly being faced with hardship over the development which they said is already taking a toll on their professional and personal lives.
Speaking on behalf of the protesting doctors, Chairman, Media Committee, Association of Resident Doctors, UNIMEDTH, Dr Taiwo Olagbe, said the state government had refused to pay their salaries since January, culminating to five months of unpaid salaries.
He said: “Our members are being evicted from their houses as they are long overdue on their rent renewals. Some of us have to trek a long distance to the hospital as they can no longer afford to fuel their cars or board a motorcycle among other demeaning and dehumanizing experiences. In order to avert a repeat of what happened in January, we have had wide consultations in form of letters and meetings to and with both our management and government representatives to hear our peculiar situation and do the needful but all to no avail.
“As determined, committed and resolute as we have been in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic as frontline healthcare workers in the state in accordance with the state government’s plan to not only cut the chain of transmission but ensure that everyone in the state has access to quality healthcare irrespective of the medical or surgical condition especially at the tertiary level since the disease was first confirmed in the state, we will, unfortunately, not be able to continue to provide this much needed, cherished and patriotic service beyond the 15th of May for the obvious reason that we would have totally run out of every means to continue to do so.”
The doctors, however, resolved to return to their various wards after the protest with a warning to the state government that without the full payment of all salaries, they will embark on strike.
“Concrete plan is made to regularize our salaries henceforth are made to prevent a repeat of this gory experience, are met in full this time to enable us to offset our debts and meet our financial obligations promptly.”
It would be recalled that the doctors had on January 10, 2020, embarked on an indefinite strike over the same issue which was later resolved.
However, while reacting to the development, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, assured that the doctors would begin to receive credit alert starting from next week.
Adegbenro explained that effort is ongoing towards ensuring that the doctors receive their salaries anytime that civil servants in the area paid.