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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Ondo State government commences payment of salary and allowances arrears to resident doctors

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The Ondo State Government has commenced the payment of salary arrears to resident doctors at the University of Medical Science Teaching Hospital (UNIMEDTH).

Newslodgelearnt that the health workers received payments for their salary arrears on Wednesday, a day after they embarked on a 14-day warning strike.

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According to a statement by Bayo Philip, the Ondo State Head of Service, on Thursday, the state government started paying resident doctors at the institution the two months’ arrears of hazard allowance and new employees their four to five months’ salary arrears, as promised.

“It is true that Governor Aiyedatiwa inherited both the medical hazard allowance and salary arrears of interns made up of House Officers, Nurses, Pharmacists, etc. The government has not only taken concrete steps to resolve the matter but has commenced the payment of the arrears.

“The striking doctors have received a 2-month hazard allowance as agreed, while the interns are being paid the whole 4 – 5 months’ arrears owed them,” the statement read.

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The state government also noted that it was making efforts to bring its health workers’ salaries to be on a par with those of their counterparts in other states.

“A joint committee comprising government and NMA officials is already meeting on the issue of salary disparity between Ondo State and other sister states, and this will be actualized as soon as the committee submits its report,” the statement said.

Doctors’ association reacts

The institution’s association of resident doctors confirmed the payments by the state government, indicating that the ongoing strike might soon end.

During a phone conversation with PREMIUM TIMES, the union president, John Mattew, said, “Yes, yesterday, we started receiving the salary arrears of the affected persons, palliative arrears, and our hazard allowance. But some persons are yet to be paid, and we have begun to collate the names of members yet to be paid. We will call off our strike as soon as that is done.”

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Background

On Tuesday, 2 April, the union started a 14-day warning strike to protest the non-payment salaries to new workers for seven months.

The doctors, under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), also protested the exclusion of house officers from palliatives and the incomplete payment of hazard allowance to all its members.

According to Mr Mattew, the union president, 14 resident doctors who joined the institution in the last quarter of 2023 were yet to be paid salaries despite multiple appeals by the association to the state government and the institution’s management.

“We are embarking on this strike because we have made several peaceful approaches to resolve the matter, but it seems not to work,” he had said.

Mr Matthew also said the state government had failed to disburse the February hazard allowance despite initially promising to pay for two months’ arrears.

“Ondo State didn’t pay hazard allowance until this March. After several appeals and strike threats, they promised to pay for two months, but we got one month, contrary to our agreement. Our counterparts in the Ondo Hospital Management Board got two months, but we didn’t. We want to know the reason for this preferential treatment,” he said.

He also pointed out the unpleasant working conditions of the doctors at the institution due to the staff shortage while noting that house officers had been excluded from receiving the monthly palliatives to which health workers in the state are entitled.

The association had vowed to embark on an indefinite strike should the authorities fail to meet their demand after 14 days.

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