by Stanley Azuakola
Lagos State doctors, who dragged the state government to the National Industrial Court over their sack by the government, face a dicey situation.
The issue at stake: The doctors went to the court, asking it to affirm that they had the right to strike; a right that the government could not discipline (sack) them for. Since they first brought the case forward however, several developments have occurred, the most important being that the state government recalled the sacked doctors.
Now, their counsel, Mr Ode Abah, is asking the court for some time to amend their statement of fact.
In the amendment, he wants the court to compel the government to honour an agreement it has with the doctors and fully implement the improved salary package called Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS).
The problem is that the court is an Industrial Court and it has its jurisdiction. The presiding judge, Benedict Kanyip, said that much when he warned that any amendment being brought by the doctors must be within the context of what the court has power to hear.
“Your prayer was not that we should give you CONMESS. The contest was that you had a right to it (go on strike) and the injunction was to stop the state government from disciplining you,” he said.
The judge also said that the doctors may lose the court’s attention should the latest amendment go outside the “context of strike in which the court has jurisdiction.”
He suggested that the doctors take their dispute over remuneration to the Industrial Arbitration Panel from where it can then be brought back to the National Industrial Court on Appeal. Alternatively, he said the doctors could file their case individually.
He adjourned the case to July 11, 2012, pending the claimants’ application.