Justice Benedict Kanyip of the National Industrial Court, Lagos, on Wednesday urged the Lagos State Government and its striking doctors to ensure that that they continue on the path of dialogue to resolve their differences.
``As an institute and going by Section 20 of the National Industrial Court Act 2006, we are urging parties to continue their dialogue. I am certain a common ground will be reached,’’ he said.
Kanyip, who gave the advice at the resumed hearing of the case, filed by two doctors, Olumuyiwa Odusote and Idris Durojaiye, on behalf of the Medical Guild against the state government, said it would be better than any ruling or judgment of the court.
The doctors had gone on the strike on April 24 asking the government to implement the agreement it reached with them in April 2011, over the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
The government had on May 7 sacked 788 doctors for what it termed ``illegal absence from duty and failure to reply to the queries it issued to them''.
Also joined in the suit are the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Lagos State Health Service Commission and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital Management Board.
The judge, however, held that if at the next adjourned date, May 22, if no agreement had been reached he was going to hear the applications filed by the doctors.
He also ordered the Attorney-General Of Lagos State, Mr Ade Ipaye, to ensure that he kept to his words that no doctor would be ejected from his official quarters until after the hearing and determination of the suit.
Earlier, counsel to the guild, Mr Bamidale Aturu, had told the court that he had filed an application before it urging it to look into the action of the government when it decided to sack its workers without due process.
``We have served the defendants with the motion and with the court permission we are ready to move it,'' he said.
Counsel to the defendants, Mr Ade Ipaye, however, told the court that he was also served with the motion on Tuesday and needed time to file his counter motion, as he was opposing the application.
He said that the urgent matter in the application was the eviction of the doctors from their official quarters and that he would give an undertaken that no one would be ejected until the determination of the case.
The Lagos State Chapter Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr Edamisan Temiye, who spoke with journalists after the court session, said that government’s action was an attack on the NMA and would eventually spread to other workers.
He described the action as casualising the profession, which he added might spread to other workers in the country.
``We do not mind being the group which will spearhead the stoppage of casualising workers, `` he said.
He said that on Friday, May 18, federal hospitals would be shut down and doctors would be joining the strike.
According to him, the national officials of the NMA will meet at the weekend and further actions will be taken.
``We expect an emergency delegate meeting of NMA and any decision taken will be carried out.
The Chairman of the Medical Guild, Dr Olumuyiwa Odusote, described Wednesday’s hearing in court as being fair enough.
He applauded the judiciary, saying that ``it showed that the judiciary is living up to its billing as the last hope of the common man.
``At least, we are able to get the court’s pronouncement restraining government from evicting our members staying in the quarters.
``We cannot just rely on the attorney general’s promise, `` he said.
Odusote said the guild was willing to negotiate with the government, adding that it was hopeful that the case would make headway. (NAN)