Doctors shut down Plateau hospital, declare indefinite strike

EMERGENCY DIGEST- Resident doctors at the Plateau State Specialists Hospital in Jos have shut down the health facility following a strike action embarked by members of the union.

The President of the Association of Resident Doctors, Plateau Specialists Hospital branch, Dr Gogwan Bangs, disclosed this in an interview with Journalists in Jos on Monday.

Bangs said, “We have asked our members to proceed on strike. The decision to shut down the hospital was taken during our congress meeting last Friday. So, the hospital will remain so as long as government is not ready to resolve the issues involved.”

On their grievances, the ARD President who accused the state government of illegal deduction of their salaries added, “We have a lot of problems in Plateau hospital. These issues have been dragging on since 2020 and our members have been enduring maltreatment from the state government.

“First the state government said it can only pay us 80 per cent of The Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) with a promise to pay fully when situations improve and we agreed after which we signed an agreement with the government for onward implementation and it was the state Head of Service that signed the agreement on behalf of the government.

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“Doctors at the hospital have been managing the 80 per cent salary and suddenly, the state government in September 2020 said they wanted to implement a new minimum wage. We were expecting an increment in our salaries but what we saw eventually was further deduction from the 80 per cent we were collecting before. When we complained, they said it was a mistake. But their claim of mistake was never corrected.

“While we were still struggling for the so-called mistake to be corrected, the government again removed the salaries of doctors from The Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) to what they called Grade Level structure which further reduced our monthly salaries. So, we agreed with the government in June last year that these deductions in our salaries should stop and when we discovered that it did not stop, we met again with the government in December last year. And it was agreed that they will take us back to the CONMESS salary structure and we signed another agreement that it will be reflected in the January salary for the year 2022.

“For reasons best known to them, they delayed our January salary because they knew they were not going to stop the illegal deductions and when they eventually made the payment last Thursday, we discovered that the amount was far less than the situation before. Based on the worsening situation, our members who are already tired of government insincerity met on Friday and took a decision to resume the earlier strike we had suspended because of the lingering issue. It is a total and indefinite strike and members have resolved not to return to their duty posts until the issues are resolved.”

The State Head of Service, Sunday Hyat, was not readily available to comment on the issues when contacted, as calls put across to his mobile phone were not answered.

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