Dr. (Sen.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment

Strike: Government approves N8.9bn for resident doctors’ COVID-19 hazard allowance

*Approval cash-backed, mandate sent to CBN for payments to start September 9, says Dr. (Sen.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment

*We are urging and advocating for attention for the doctors; we are asking them for patience –Health Minister

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

Following the health workers’ nationwide strike in Nigeria since Monday, September 7, 2020, the Federal Government has approved additional N8.9 billion to offset the large chunk of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers.

Dr. (Sen.) Chris Ngige, Honourable Minister for Labour and Employment, stated this at the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during a meeting between the Government and the Nigeria Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) Wednesday, in Abuja, FCT, says agency report.

It is recalled that NARD had embarked on a total and an indefinite strike in all Federal and state hospitals in the country to press for its demands.

NARD demands include payment of the Medical Residency Training funding to all members as approved in the revised 2020 Budget, provision of genuine Group Life Insurance and Death in Service Benefits for all health workers.

Others are payment of outstanding April/May and June 2020 COVID-19 inducement allowance, determination of revised hazard allowance for all health workers as agreed in previous meetings with relevant stakeholders, immediate payment of salary shortfall of 2014, 2015 and 2016, among others.

Ngige said that implementation of the payment of the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowance has been concluded.

According him, the meeting was satisfied that the N20billion already appropriated in 2020 COVID-19 budget has been exhausted.

The Minister stated that the participants in the meeting, therefore, commended the Federal Government and Mr. President for approving additional N8.9bn to pay up substantial part of the June 2020 COVID-19 allowance to all Medical Health workers.-This has been cash backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for payments to start with effect from September 9, 2020.

According to him, this will bring the total disbursement to about N288 billion.

Ngige noted that discussion for review of a Permanent Hazard Allowance for Health Workers would commence as soon as possible after consultation by the Minister of Labour and Employment with all stakeholders in the health sector.

He noted that based on the principles of ability to pay, this would cover all health workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and that the meeting would be convened as soon as possible in that regard, said he.

The Minister also said that on the Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), NARD had agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres, have sufficient PPE.

On the provision of Group Life Insurance for Doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries, that the government had paid the total sum of N9.3 billion (Nine billion, Three Hundred Million Naira) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for Health Workers.

According to him, the enrollment for the Group Life Insurance would be by the submission of nominal rolls by the various Health Institutions, which NARD had been mandated at previous meeting to accomplish.

He said meeting also decided that NARD should submit copies of claims already made to the Insurance Companies through the hospitals to the Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that would ensure that the Insurance Companies pay the claims.

On the issue of Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage, he stressed  the government would pay all owed arrears to members of the association and would also implement such in States Tertiary Health Institutions.

He stated: “It was noted that those affected were the Youth Corps Members and House Officers, who are regarded as ad hoc staff and for State Hospitals, the Federal Government can only be persuasive.

“It was recalled that NARD had been assigned the responsibility to submit a list from the defaulting hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, Honourable Minister for Health, has said striking resident doctors must be patient with the government as their demands are being met.

The Minister made the plea in an appearance on a private Channels TV special COVID-19 programme Wednesday.

Dr. Ehanire disclosed that the period was “not a good time to go on strike.”

The Minister said: “Salaries are not outstanding, salaries are paid up-to-date; hazard allowance was outstanding up till a few days ago, as agreed.

“But there is another tranche that is coming up on stream, which we are talking about with the Ministry of Finance.

“What they must understand is that there are several ministries dealing with these issues. These ministries have a lot on their plate.

“We are urging and advocating for attention for the doctors. We are asking the doctors for patience. We want to assure them they will not be shortchanged.”

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