Dr. (Sen.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment Photo: Channels TV

Government urges Nigerian resident doctors to end strike, embrace dialogue

*6 of their 8-point demands have already been resolved ‘comprehensively and satisfactorily,’ says Dr. (Sen.) Chris Ngige, Labour and Employment Minister

*Reconvenes conciliation meeting between Resident Doctors (NARD), FMH and Federal Ministry of Finance Wednesday, September 9

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

As the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is still much present in the country, and in order to pave way for the Federal Government to resolve issues and maintain industrial harmony with them, Dr. (Sen.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment, has asked the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to call off their ongoing strike.

The resident doctors’ strike commenced nationwide industrial action Monday, September 7, 2020.

The Minister in a statement Monday, therefore, urged the resident doctors to embrace dialogue to resolve outstanding issues with the Federal Government.

Earlier, the doctors had issued a nationwide strike ultimatum to realise their 8-point demands regarding a pay rise, adequate facilities, and better welfare packages for them.

However, Sen. Ngige who listed the government’s ongoing efforts at addressing outstanding issues, disclosed that six of the demands had already been resolved.

He said: “Recall that most of the issues listed in the demands are issues that have been under conciliation since May 2020 that resulted in their strike in June 2019.

“The NARD leadership in three conciliatory meetings with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) leadership in attendance can attest that out of the eight (8) demands listed after their Bauchi NEC meeting, the Federal Government via the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMoFB&NP) has already addressed about six of the demands comprehensively and satisfactorily.”

Despite the economic challenges facing the country, and a revenue shortfall, the government has been able to spend N20 billion on health workers between April and June this year, said Ngige.

The Minister stated: “Even with the lean resources available due to the COVID-19 effect on oil output and price resulting in low revenue, the Federal Government has addressed the COVID-19 Special Hazard and Inducement Allowances for Medical and Health Workers.

“As of today, N20 billion has been expended by the FMoH and FMoF&NP on this allowance for April, May, and June 2020 with very little grey areas of outstanding payments to some Health Workers for June 2020.”

According to him, “the issue of Group Life Insurance for Medical  and Health Workers were also dealt with fully with the Office of the Head of Service passing the records to both NARD and FMoH, to pass on to their medical doctors and other health workers to make appropriate claims when necessary, with the details of the 13 Leading Insurance companies and brokers, an exercise  that cost the Federal Government N9.3 billion as a premium to run from the COVID-19 period of March 2020 to March 2021.”

He stated that the life insurance covers both Health professionals and workers, and all federal civil servants and public servants in federal organisations.

He added that the Federal Government also appropriated the sum of N4 billion from the Special Intervention COVID-19 N500 billion 2020 Appropriation, for funding of Medical Residency Training and with intent to do the same in the ongoing 2021 Budget to be submitted to NASS for consideration.

Besides the N4 billion has been processed for payment, the Minister stressed that “other issues like the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital right between NARD and the authorities were addressed.

“Old issues not related to the COVID-19 period and issues of State Governments not addressing the Consequential Minimum Wage Adjustments, and low patronage of Residency programme are work in progress.”

He asked the union not to throw caution to the wind by ignoring the case before the National Industrial Court.

The interlocutory injunction against further strike actions by NARD, which was gotten by the Citizens Advocacy for Social Rights (CASER) and Association of Women in Trading and Agriculture (AWITA) is still valid and the union should respect the Country’s Laws and withdraw the September 7 strike ultimatum.

The Minister has slated Wednesday, September 9 to reconvene the ongoing conciliation meeting between NARD, the Federal Ministry of Health, and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.

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