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Medical doctors nationwide strike begins

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By Timothy Akintola

Resident doctors issue two weeks ultimatum to federal/state government.

There has been a constant complaint on the dilapidated economic status quo, which the government has been deeply complacent about. Numerous government funded working sectors in the country have either threatened nationwide strikes or are on strike currently. Federal universities have been on a nationwide strike for six months, whereas meetings between the Academic Staff Union of Universities have continuously hit stumbling blocks, leaving students as collateral damages of government’s complacencies. Since, PHCN, NASU amongst other unions have also taken strike actions and now, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) are also preparing to embark on a nationwide strike.

Like other unions, NARD had been critical of the government’s failure to reach their demands, issuing a two week ultimatum for the payment of the recently reviewed Medical Residency Training Funds (MRTF) to members of the union, implementation of the new national minimum wage, as well as hazard allowances amongst other agreements. This was made known during the July National Executive Council Meeting and Scientific Conference, which is themed “The Quagmire of Medical Workplace Hazards: Defending a Nation Under a Shade of Arrows, and took place in Lafia, Nasarawa state.

Consequential adjustment deprived since new minimum wage implementation.

At the Scientific Conference which was held in July, the association complained that states like Imo, Ondo, Ekiti and Gombe still owed doctors in the workforce salaries in the range of 2-10 months respectively, as well as other arrears. NARD noted that resident doctors have had arrears from 2014, 2015 and 2016 unpaid despite their heavy negotiations with the government. They also complained of the fact that many of their members have been deprived of consequential adjustments, since the new minimum wage implementation in 2019.

Amongst the demands of the doctors’ association is the swift review of Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and other related allowances, causing the dilapidated economic situation of the country. They also demanded that the agreed terms from the former Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) be constantly reviewed. The association noted that the Abia State Government haven’t done sufficiently well towards the progress of implementing the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA 2007), as well as the 25+ months salaries owed doctors at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital.

Extension of ultimatum, an illustration of the association’s goodwill.

On the bad welfarism that has ravaged the health sector, the association appealed to the government to further improve the allocation of the health sector in the national budget. Also, the association beseeched that the government help in curbing the brain drain, as well as eliminating the bureaucratic ones and condemning the attacks on its members and other Health professionals. The association appealed to both the state and federal government to look into this issue and put plans in place to avoid future occurrences.

At the expiration of this deadline, the association decided to extend this ultimatum by another 2 weeks. Godiya Ishaya, President of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) made this known at the Extraordinary National Executive Council (E-NEC) which he described as an illustration of goodwill, upon consideration of the government’s efforts. He noted that it was the belief of the association that the extension will grant the government with adequacy to substantially support their efforts with results, so as to avert industrial disharmony.

NARD commends efforts by federal ministries towards MRTF review.

Ishaya however commended the efforts made by the Federal Ministry of Health, Labour and employment, as well as the National Salary Income and Wage Commission towards the MRTF review. He further appealed with both the government and general pubic to work swiftly towards the implementation and payment of the upgraded Hazard Allowances and to help by intervening against the deplorable situations that the resident doctors are put in, in the affected states respectively. He promised that the association and the government will try to find a resolution swiftly and avoid further escalations.

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