JAF Support Lagos State Doctor’s Strike.

The Joint Action Front, a pro-labour movement today signed on to support the striking Lagos Doctors and to call the Lagos State Government to revise its policy to impose a new metro-cab deal on them.

In a press conference called to jointly address the issue of Lagos State Doctors’ yearning for the implementation of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure, CONMESS, and to criticize the forceful dealing of new cars at whopping sums by the Lagos State Government on the Taxi operators in the state, the Joint Action Front described the action of the state government as a violation of the principles of collective bargaining and the rule of law by Lagos State Government.

CONMESS, which was described as the Lagos State Government had signed the basic minimum wage for all doctors across the federation nearly thirteen (13) months ago, but was never implemented.

Addressing the conference in Lagos today, President of the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), LASUTH Ikeja, Dr. Saheed Babajide said that the implementation of the CONMESS will only cost the State Government N10 million. “It is only N10 million that is needed to save lives, and this shows that this government even as it claims to be democratic, does not have the interest of the people at heart.

“We are also calling on those that are being invited for temporary recruitment to shun the exercise. It is only a temporary course for the period that we are on strike and they will also be faced with similar treatment in the future. As soon as the strike is over, they will be thrown away,” he said.

“Fashola’s Government says it is employing new doctors to replace us. It is totally unfair. How can you employ new graduates who are not experienced to treat patients in a bid to avoid paying only N10million CONMESS, which is our legal right? It shows the level of callousness on the part of a self-acclaimed democratic government”, the doctor added.

Commenting on the issue, Comrade Biodun Aremu, Secretary of the Joint Action Front says he would advise all Lagosians not to visit the hospitals anymore so as not to risk their lives with inexperienced doctors that the State Government will be recruiting, as those doctors only will experiment with precious lives.

“JAF therefore demands immediate and unconditional implementation of CONMESS in Lagos State. We are resolved to rally Lagosians and Nigerians on MASS ACTION to compel the Lagos State Government to implement the agreements”, JAF said in a text forwarded to the media.

Yesterday during the May Day event, the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Raji Fashola had said that his administration would not implement any wage policy decided by the federal government except the minimum wage. The statement which he made in a bid to discourage the Lagos Doctors on strike today received a response from the conference organized by JAF. Comrade Akele, a member of the movement said it is hypocrisy as the Federal Government also determines Fashola’s salary.

“If he says he is not paying whatever the Federal Government is imposing, then I challenge him to say before the public who imposed the salary he collects and that of his commissioners and political appointees. He should also come and tell us whether it is not the federal government law and policy that established the taxes he collects,” said the comrade.

On their own part, the taxi operators in Lagos State, who are protesting the imposition of a new ‘Mega cab’ deal on them by the State Government accused Mr. Kayode Opeifa of turning his duty into business that puts the poor taxi operators at tether’s end.

In their words, the transport veterans, arriving with placards with inscriptions accusing Governor Fashola and Mr. Opeifa of imposing anti-poor policy, said the Lagos State Government asked them to scrap their cabs and purchase its own (government’ mega cab) at N4.5million, compulsorily.

According to members of the Lagos State Taxi Drivers and Cab Operators Association, LASTDCOA, who complained about the cruel policy at the conference today, the decision to turn transport business into private ownership started some five years ago, when the operators where denied licensing registration on the basis of using second-hand vehicles.

According to one of them, Mr. Taofeek Oladokun at the Pedro Taxi Park, the operators met with the Speaker of the Lagos State House, Mr. Ikuforiji, who assured them that the second-hand vehicles would be inspected and the ones certified ‘OK’ would be licensed. The agreement was only to retire ten years old cars. However, when Mr. Opeifa came in as the Transport Commissioner last year, he worked out a deal with the Skye bank to purchase new vehicles and force the cars on the poor
operators to pay exorbitantly on installments.

“When Opeifa came last year, he said whether okay or not, he does not want us to use second-hand vehicles but that we should use new ones that befit the Mega City. We agreed with him and went to price new vehicles of their specifications, but Mr. Opeifa said we must come and patronize them. Those that have not patronized them are denied registration and are being stopped from operating.

“We went to get the price of the vehicle Mr. Opeifa brought and discovered that its market value is only N1.3 million. We asked him to allow us go and buy it by ourselves, but he denied us that freedom and said we must buy from him. He said the deal is with his bank (Skye Bank) and we don’t know when Mr. Opeifa, a commissioner, became a car dealer!

“When we told him that we cannot afford to pay N4.5 million for cars that sell at only N1.3 million, he asked us to come and register as drivers under him. So, he now wants to employ us and be paying us peanuts” the cab operators’ representative at the conference said.

Commenting generally on the Lagos Doctors’ strike action and the extortion of the cab operators by the Lagos State government, the Joint Action Front said that Mr. Fashola’s statement that he would not pay any wage policy imposed by the Federal Government is an after-thought as he already signed the agreement several months before he made the unpopular statement on May Day.

Deputy Chairman of JAF, Achike Chudi called on all Nigerians to join forces with the Lagos Doctors to help win this battle against humanity.

“They silenced the students and turned LASU into a private school and also silenced the Lekki residents for the payment of toll. Now they want to silence doctors,” Mr.Chike said.

He continued, stating, “We must not accept this, and we are calling on every concerned Nigerian to join this action as the doctors are the only ones giving them resistance. This is an anti-people policy and must be resisted. It is a battle against the people and the people must win this one.”

From the text JAF read during the conference, it demanded that the government make clear statement on its position on the Taxi Cab Operators’ extortion allegation.

“JAF demands that the Lagos State Government should in the next 14 days make a clear pronouncement on the illegality of the pronouncement by the Lagos Executive and compel the Licensing authority not to deny any taxi operator the rights to legitimate business operation or face MASS ACTION.

Equally, JAF demands the Lagos House of Assembly should call Mr. Kayode Opeifa to order and he should desist from using the Vehicle Inspection Officers, Security operatives and party thugs and sell-out and government apologist’s officers of LASTDCOA to harass and threaten the life of the concerned members.

Today makes it seven days that the Lagos State doctors commenced the warning strike.

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