Medical doctors employed by the Ondo State Government have begun a two-week warning strike to press for better working conditions.

The doctors, under the National Association of Government General Medical and Dental Practitioners, said the state government had failed to pay their salary arrears for some months. They also alleged that the state had failed to resolve the issue of the exodus of doctors and other health workers, among other issues.

They gave the notice in a letter addressed to the state governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, after its meeting on June 9, 2021.

The letter was signed by the state chairman and secretary of the NAGGMDP, Roland Arohunmolase and Richard Obe respectively.

“With due respect to your office, we write to notify your office of the immediate withdrawal of service by our members working under Ondo State Government Civil Service,” the letter, titled the ‘Notice of Withdrawal of Service’, read.

“Following Ordinary General Meeting of our association held on Wednesday 9th of June, 2021, members resolved at proceeding on two weeks warning strike starting from 8:00 am, 10th of June, 2021.”

The doctors went further to list the “nonpayment of salary arrears being owed health workers in Ondo State (January 2017, March, April and May 2021), gross understaffing of government hospitals following mass exodus of doctors and other health workers from the state, non-regular payment of salaries and non-harmonization of doctors’ grade level in Ondo State Civil Service as approved by the Governor as contained in the letter written to Nigerian Medical Association Ondo State in March, 2021.”

The doctors also complained of percentage payment of salaries to health workers, non-payment of the third tranche of COVID-19 allowance, and non-implementation of Group Life Insurance for all Health workers.

“Against this backdrop, we wish to let you know that our members have been overstretched and their emotional intelligence badly affected,” the letter further read.

“Ondo State is being overpopulated and this has increased the numbers of patient patronage at various government-owned health facilities.

“Invariably, it has become unbearable to cope with the deplorable state of things in Ondo State Government-owned hospitals.

“We hereby state that it is not the wish of our members to proceed on this industrial action, but it is necessary to draw your attention and that of the citizenry to the afore-mentioned.

“The Association hopes Mr. Governor will do the needful in addressing our dissatisfaction as contained in this letter.”

Mr Akeredolu had reached an agreement with state workers on the need to pay a percentage of their salaries, pending improvement in revenues.

But the doctors had rejected such payments, prompting a reaction from the governor, who said the doctors could not be treated differently from other state workers.

The governor’s outburst had also met with a rebuke from the Nigeria Medical Association, who called the governor to order.

PREMIUM TIMES, however, gathered that efforts by a government team on labour issues were underway to assuage the striking doctors.

The Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Richard Olabode, said a clearer picture on the matter would be made known on Friday.

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