Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has urged medical doctors in the state who have embarked on strike to resume work, promising to sort out their grievances during negotiation.
The governor who said that the state government has been magnanimous to medical workers disclosed that besides regularly paying the salaries of the over 20,000 health workers in the state government's payroll, the government also increased their hazard allowance by 400 per cent in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, he disclosed that the over 1,000 workers directly battling the COVID-19 pandemic were also given special incentives outside their salary and hazard allowances.
Speaking at the Infectious Disease Hospital, Yaba where he commemorated the 2020 Tree planting day and inaugurated a 36-chamber Morgue donated by IHS Towers to the state government at the centre, the governor said the issues that led to the doctor's strike were being looked into.
According to him, the major issue at stake was the yet-to-be paid May and June additional COVID-19 allowance which has now been paid, adding that the allowance was his initiative "because we wanted to show leadership at the outbreak of the pandemic."
"The first thing they said is that, we owe some workers hazard allowances. For the benefit of the public, our government is the first, in March, that started paying hazard allowance to our entire health workers, almost 20,000 of them. We increased the hazard allowance by 400 per cent and this is verifiable. Lagos is the first to do this. All the entire health workers - doctors, nurse, drivers, hygienists - got a 400 per cent on hazard allowance as enumerated in their payment structure.
"Above that, we realised we needed to give additional incentive to frontline workers specifically engaged in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. This is called COVID-19 allowance, which is outside their regular salaries and hazard allowances. The COVID-19 allowance is for over 1,000 medical officers and other auxiliary workers in all of our isolation centres. On this additional allowance, I do not need to consult with anybody. It is something I felt it was needed.
"Lagos is the first in the country to create this additional allowance and we are doing it not because we wanted to show off. We realised Lagos is the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic and I think we should show leadership and commitment to all our frontline staff. So, we created that allowance and paid it," he explained.
The governor said he was not upset about the doctors' strike because it was due to inadequate communication.
He said as a father, he must attend to the needs of all his children, insisting that the strike was opportunistic because of the circumstances of the time.
Other issues that led to the strike such as taxes, residential quarters for doctors, shortage of doctors and dismissal of health workers, the governor said, were being taken care off and the doctors are aware of it.
He said, "it is rather unfortunate that my workers whom I love so dearly would take this very unexpected line to appeal their grievances. It is rather unfair and unfortunate that any of us especially them at this time would want to take an opportunistic approach because of the pandemic crisis we are going through, I think it is rather unfortunate and I think it is utterly condemnable".
Earlier, Sanwo-Olu had dedicated this year's Tree Planting Day to all the health workers on the frontline of state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.