By Ikeugonna Eleke
Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria (MDCAN), Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital (COOUTH) Chapter, has resolved to go ahead with its proposed strike.
MDCAN in a letter to the CMD of COOUTH, Dr Joe Akabuike, on 12 April had threatened to commence strike if the promise of the state government to its members to increase their salaries was not met by the CMD.
The letter which was signed by the chapter chairman and secretary, Prof George Emechebe and Dr Bernard Ochiagu, respectively read: “Recall that the Anambra State Government promised to pay all doctors working with the state good salaries. To be convinced this promise was fulfilled, the MDCAN COOUTH chapter signed an agreement with the hospital management Board in January 2020 for an improved pay package.
“As part of the bargain, the hospital management commenced the payment of the new salary emolument at 70% implementation and pleaded with the MDCAN COOUTH Chapter that a full (100% CONMESS) automatically be effective by January 2021.
“However, the payment of 100% CONMESS did not commence as promised, and the members were appealed to, to be patient in January 2022. As a responsible government that does not play with the health of her citizens, additional subventions were released to the hospital management, to make sure health workers were adequately remunerated.
“To our greatest chagrin, when the February and March 2022 salaries were paid, what our esteemed members received was far below their expectation, and the shortfalls were not also paid.
“It is disheartening to say the least that the CMD turned around and labeled the document generated by the hospital management board an illegal document. The CMD also claimed that whoever signed such an agreement did so in error.”
The group in its resolution had said: “That the hospital management should fully implement the 100% CONMESS as agreed with the hospital management board effective from January 2022. That the MDCAN congress insist that the areas of the shortfall be paid. That the congress is hereby giving a 21-day notice to the hospital management to comply with the above demand. Failing to do so, we will proceed on total and indefinite strike action.”
Just three days to the commencement of the strike action, Emechebe has vowed not to go back on the decision.
When Trinitas contacted him on Friday, he confirmed that the body was still very ready to go on strike after the expiration of the period given to the hospital management.
“The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, has waded into the matter, but a common ground has not yet been reached. We are not relenting on the commencement of the strike once the time elapses, but for now, we are still holding joint meetings with the commissioner and the CMD,” he said.