Resident Doctors Give FG Two-Week Ultimatum Over Welfare Demands

FILE: NARD President, Dr Dare Ishaya, briefs reporters at the end of the meeting of the doctors in Bauchi State on September 25, 2021.

 

The National Association of Resident Doctors have given the Federal Government two weeks to implement agreements concerning their welfare or face industrial disharmony.

The association gave the the ultimatum after their National Executive Council meeting which held in Lafia, Nasarawa.

In a communique signed by NARD President, Dr Dare Godiya Ishaya, the doctors said they would reconvene in two weeks to review the progress made so far, as it relates to their demands.

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They vowed to “take further actions for which nationwide industrial harmony may not be guaranteed.”

The doctors are asking the Federal Government to expedite action on the payment of the newly reviewed Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) so its members can meet up with the closing date of examination registration as advertised by the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria (NPMCN).

They are also demanding the immediate implementation and payment of the new Hazard Allowance and arrears as contained in the circular from the
National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC).

Other demands include the payment of the skipping arrears for 2014, 2015 and 2016 to deserving members and immediate payment of consequential adjustment of minimum wage to its members who have not benefitted since it was implemented several years ago.

The doctors are demanding an immediate review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and other related allowances given the current economic situation in the country, and also in line with the agreed terms from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that it will be
reviewed regularly.

Resident Doctors Still On Strike Due To Lack Of Trust – NMA

 

A deep distrust of the Federal Government’s ability to implement its promises is behind the prolonged strike of resident doctors across the country, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) said on Monday.

“The problem we face is that when agreements are signed, everybody goes to sleep,” NMA President, Innocent Ujah, said during his appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily.

“So there is this distrust among workers. And this is not good for the country; because we expect that those who work for our President should be truthful, honest and should comply with the agreement.”

There were indications that the three-week-old strike would soon be called off after the doctors, under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) met with Federal Government representatives in Abuja over the weekend.

The meeting was brokered, in part by the NMA, which is the parent body of all doctors in the country.

But the resident doctors refused to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) produced at the end of the meeting, citing the government’s decision to institute a court action over the strike.

The resident doctors also said the government must reverse its ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

‘Impoverished’ Doctors

Meanwhile, a NARD spokesperson, Julian Ojebo, has said the resident doctors will not resume unless their benefits have been paid.

Ojebo, while speaking on Sunrise Daily, said resident doctors have been left ‘impoverished’ by the government’s inability to meet its demands.

“We are not on strike for added allowances; we are not on strike for any other thing,” Ojebo said. “We are on strike for our normal due salaries that you have not paid from January to July.

“We are talking about salary shortfalls that you have not paid from 2014 to 2016. We are talking about monies you have not paid for our medical residency training program. These are the issues on the table, and these issues have not been resolved.”

He noted that signing MoUs was an academic exercise that does nothing to address the doctors’ demands.

“Payment of our benefits are the only actionable plans that can actually make us sign any memorandum of agreement of terms,” he said.

“Other than these, I don’t think we are being fair.”

A recurring problem

The resident doctors had earlier embarked on a strike in April.

The strike was suspended within ten days after the doctors met with Federal Government representatives and an agreement was signed for implementation.

But nothing was done to implement the agreement, NARD has said, prompting the resumption of the strike action.

“Twenty-one days of strike action in this country is unacceptable,” the NMA chief Ujah said on Monday. “But the problem is that some people are not doing their work.

A photo combination, created on August 23, of President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Innocent Ujah and Chairman, Communication and Communique, at the National Association of Resident Doctors, Julian Ojebo.
A photo combination, created on August 23, of President of the Nigeria Medical Association, Innocent Ujah and Chairman, Communication and Communique, at the National Association of Resident Doctors, Julian Ojebo.

 

“This strike is avoidable. In April, we were able to convince our colleagues to suspend the action, and nothing happened anymore.

“They gave a period of notice to government, again nothing happened.

“The issue is about distrust. So government has to implement at least some of the demands.

“If the government does its own bit, there is no reason why resident doctors should not go back to work. They are not happy that when issues are raised, implementation becomes a problem.”

 

 

Striking Doctors Refuse To Sign New MoU With FG After Six-Hour Meeting

Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021.
Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021. Friday Okeregbe/Channels Television

 

The leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has refused assent to a new memorandum of understanding brokered by the Nigeria Medical Association to end the three weeks old strike that has crippled medical services in government hospitals across the country.

NARD President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, declined his assent owing to an undisclosed clause.

According to Okhuaihesuyi, NARD’s leadership has to consult with members of the association before he appends his signature.

READ ALSO: FG, Striking Doctors Meet Again In Abuja

Addressing journalists after the over six hours closed-door meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, said all other unions in the negotiation, including the Nigeria Medical Association and the Medical and Dental Consultants of Nigeria, signed the new agreement, having agreed on all the issues raised.

Meanwhile, the minister also clarified that the meeting did not discuss the issues of ‘no work, no pay,’ but said all parties at the meeting agreed to an out-of-court settlement.

The Federal Government had taken the striking doctors to court last week, as it asked the National Industrial Court to mandate the doctors to return to work.

The hearing on the case was adjourned to September 15.

The doctors had embarked on a strike on August 2, citing unpaid benefits and other issues.

While the industrial action lingered, the Federal Government threatened to enforce a ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

FG, Striking Doctors Meet Again In Abuja

Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021.
Federal Government representatives met with striking resident doctors on August 21, 2021. Friday Okeregbe/Channels Television

 

After more than nine hours of meeting behind closed doors on Friday through Saturday morning, the Federal Government and striking resident doctors met again on Saturday.

The adjourned meeting had been slated for 10 am on Saturday but didn’t commence until about 4.30 pm.

READ ALSO: [Doctors’ Strike]: NMA To Intervene As Ngige Meets Stakeholders

In his opening remarks, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, reiterated that all issues in contention have been deliberated and agreed upon.

According to him, the N4.802 billion provided in the 2021 supplementary budget has been gotten from the Central Bank and sent to the Budget Office for processing.

But it appeared the striking doctors were still not satisfied with the Memorandum of Action printed by the government for their signatures before journalists were asked to exit the meeting.

The doctors embarked on a strike on August 2 over unpaid benefits, among other issues.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has threatened to implement a ‘no work, no pay’ policy even as negotiations between both parties continue.

NARD Strike: Some Unpaid Doctors Employed Without Due Process – Lawmaker

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As the nationwide strike by members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) enters its second week, a lawmaker has accused some of the medical professionals of coming into the system illegally.

Mr Yusuf Sununu, who represents Yauri/Shanga/Ngaski Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, says some of the unpaid resident doctors flouted the rules as a result of their illegal employment.

He made the allegation on Monday during an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme – Sunrise Daily, where he highlighted some of the issues that led to the industrial action by the medical practitioners.

“It is the fact that they have been employed without following due process of the Federal Government and, therefore, the Office of the Head of Service says ‘you cannot come into the civil service through the back door,” the lawmaker gave as one of his reasons for unpaid salaries.

Sununu, who is also the House Committee Chairman on Health, made the remarks ahead of the meeting between the Federal Government and representatives of NARD scheduled to hold later on August 9.

He expects a favourable outcome at the end of the meeting in order to ensure the striking doctors return to work following a week of paralysed activities in most of the government-owned facilities in the country.

“The right thing must be done,” said the lawmaker who is also a medical doctor and a former national secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).

“And the essence of the meeting is to find out how to do the right thing; how can we fast track it? And nobody is saying there is no fund for that … the issue and the problem are how did you enter the civil service?”

Yusuf was also critical of the present condition of the nation’s healthcare system, as well as the exodus of young and brilliant doctors from the country.

He believes while some of them are in pursuit of greener pastures, the COVID-19 pandemic dealt a big blow on the nation.

“There are vacancies worldwide due to COVID-19 that has done so much mutilation to healthcare service delivery world over.

“Because of these vacancies, countries are now searching for countries with resilient health care structures in terms of human services of which Nigeria is one and we (Nigerians) can work in whatever circumstances we find ourselves,” the lawmaker said.

“For example, Saudi Arabia has lessened their visa processing fees for doctors and other health care workers from Nigeria, and they also give as a specialist allowance for wages negotiations … and they are also giving them space to have free education for spouses and two children.”

When asked if the National Assembly had a role to play in the funding of both man and machine in the health sector, he responded, “There is an issue in terms of communication and taking things serious of which NARD is aware of.”

On Friday last week, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, had threatened to impose sanctions, including replacement of striking resident doctors should they refuse to return to work.

In its response, the NARD leadership blamed the lingering strike on the minister and others, with a call for their replacement for not doing their work.

Resident Doctors Strike Enters Day Six As Dispute With Govt Worsens

Doctors (Front and Rear L) from MEDU organization (Doctors for Human Rights) 

 

 

Chances of an amicable and swift resolution of the dispute between striking resident doctors and the Federal Government took a hit on Friday as both sides stuck to their positions, trading accusations.

The Federal Government insists that the doctors have no basis for the strike they started on Monday and has asked them to resume work, but the doctors say the government must honour their agreement and meet their demands before they pick up their tools again.

On Friday morning, the President of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said the striking doctors will not heed the call made by the Minister of Health a day earlier asking them to resume work.

Dr Osagie Ehanire said on Thursday that there was no basis for the nationwide strike as most of the issues raised by the doctors (seven out of 12) were the responsibility of state governments and not the Federal Government. According to him, the five issues that the Federal Government were responsible for were already being addressed.

But NARD disagreed, faulting the government’s approach to the matter.

“You can’t have signed an MOA (memorandum of agreement) with us and (say) everything you have said, and you have not even called us since the beginning of 2nd of August, 8 am, when the strike started,” the NARD President said during an appearance on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily.

“The first thing you’re telling us is that we signed a document and we are not honouring it, (and) we need to resume work. They need to stand up to their responsibilities.”

This position, and the subsequent refusal of the striking doctors to resume work, angered the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige who threatened to utilise all the labour laws and tools at his disposal to ensure that the doctors face consequences for the strike. This includes the “No work, No pay” rule.

Dr Ngige is also not ready to negotiate with the doctors.

“I won’t meet them,” the visibly angry minister said when asked about the possibility of talks between both parties during an appearance on Politics Today on Friday night.

“No, I won’t; because I have other things to do”.

Like the Health Minister, Dr Ngige argues that it was wrong for the doctors to have gone on strike being essential workers.

He also dismissed the position of the doctors that the Federal Government had not communicated with them or fulfilled the terms of the agreement reached on April 10 when they suspended an earlier strike.

Rather than hold talks with the doctors, the minister said he invoked the “no work, no pay” rule on Friday afternoon.

“They will not receive money for the period that they are on strike and it will never count for a pensionable position in their career,” he said.

Asked if that was a fair position, the minister declared that “that’s what it is”.

“Even the ILO supports it because they (doctors) offer essential services,” he said, adding that they were not supposed to go on strike without notifying him 15 days prior.

Although the minister admitted that NARD sent him “a communique” of their meeting, detailing their grievances and the resolution to go on strike, it was not the same as a trade dispute notification which he insists is what they ought to have sent to him.

Officials of NARD maintain that the government left them with no other choice than to go on strike as the issues resident doctors were facing were serious ones.

“Usually there is no negotiation done until we go on a strike,” said the President of the Association of Resident Doctors at the National Hospital in Abuja, Dr Akanimo Ebong told Channels Television on Monday when the strike started.

The doctors are seeking the immediate payment of all salaries owed to all house officers, including March salaries (regardless of quota system).

They are also asking for an upward review of the hazard allowance to 50 per cent of consolidated basic salaries of all health workers and the payment of the outstanding COVID-19 inducement allowance, especially in state-owned-tertiary institutions, among other things.

This time around, even the strike has not led to talks, and with both sides maintaining their position, the strike has dragged into a sixth day, amid concerns that it can have major implications for health care delivery in the country and the race to halt the spread of COVID-19.

Residents Doctors Threaten To Resume Strike, Give FG Three Weeks Ultimatum

President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Aliyu Sokomba.
A file photo of President of National Association of Resident Doctors, Aliyu Sokomba.

 

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors on Saturday said it will resume its suspended nationwide strike in three weeks if the Federal Government fails to meet its demands.

President of the Association, Aliyu Sokomba, revealed this to journalists in a press conference in Abuja.

NARD had, on June 22, suspended its nationwide strike, after a virtual meeting of over 300 of its members.

Sokomba, at the time, said the association suspended the strike in order to give the Federal and State Governments time to fulfill its outstanding demands.

The association declared an indefinite strike on June 15 over several demands including the provision of adequate PPE for all healthcare workers and immediate reversal of the disengagement of all 26 resident doctors at the University Teaching Hospital in Jos, the Plateau State capital.

Other demands were the universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals and ensuring pay parity among doctors of an equal cadre.

The doctors also asked the government to implement the revised hazard and payment of agreed COVID-19 inducement allowances, as well as stop and immediately refund all cuts in salaries of their colleagues in Kaduna and other states.

NARD Strike: Patients Call On FG To Resolve Issues

Patients receiving medical attention at the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia are calling on the Federal Government to save the health care system and resolve the issues of the resident doctors for the sake of the citizens.

A visit to FMC Umuahia revealed that there is no strike action as the resident doctors and other medical personnel are on hands attending to the patients.

Thus making the impact of the NARD Nationwide strike action insignificant, every attempt made to speak with the resident doctors were not successful.

However, at the wards, patients with critical conditions who are receiving medical attention are appealing to Federal Government to put necessary measures to end incessant strike action by the resident doctors.

But the Centre Public Relation Officer, Chimezirim Darlynton, noted that the needs of the patients are a priority which is why the resident doctors at the centre are yet to comply with the nationwide strike.

As the National Association of Resident Doctors have given the Federal Government conditions for suspension of the strike, Nigerians and those in dare need of medical care are waiting to see how the table will turn.

NARD Strike: NMA President Makes U-turn, Says Govt Has Failed Doctors

The President of National Medical Doctors Association (NMA), Professor Mike Ogirima has made a U-turn from his earlier assertion that the industrial action by National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is wrong and that the resident doctors were not supposed to go on strike.

Ogirima, who appeared on Channels Television Sunrise Daily, on Wednesday, is now calling on the Federal Government to yield to the demands of the resident doctors. He noted that doctors do not trust the Federal Government anymore because the government has failed them.

“Government called them for negotiation. Agreements were reached, promises were made but the doctors never got the light of the day. Government on his own part cannot be trusted any longer, that is the core of the matter.

“The move by government was belated. The resident doctors gave a 21-day ultimatum. Within that period, I was mediating and calling on the doctors not to go on the strike. After the 21-day ultimatum elapsed, there was another 14 days’ strike ultimatum issued by the doctors but the government did not act. The government has failed them severally.”

In an earlier reaction to the strike, the Professor of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery had condemned the action of the resident doctors saying they should consider the damaging effect of their action which will lead to deaths of patients, a situation against their Hippocratic oath.

“NARD taking this decision is wrong but two wrongs cannot make a right. We are appealing that the strike they are declaring today should not come into being. We still have up till the end of the day to appeal to them. NARD should not equate themselves with ASUU. Death from ASUU is a long term effect. Death from NARD strike is immediate. Our patients will die and that is not the oath we take as doctors.

“The resident doctors form the largest affiliate body of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA). The consultants are not supposed to be on strike.”

He however stressed the fact that the government was at fault by delaying negotiations with the doctors. “I condemn the government in every front. Right from their delay to the point of negotiations, having negotiations, Memorandum of Understanding, the doctors are no more trusting the government officials.

“The point I condemned the strike was that they would have waited for me as their father by bringing me forward to mediate between them and the government.”