On Monday yesterday the 5th day of October 2021, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARDS) awoke the governments of Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo states in regards to the debts of salary arrears which they owe their members which have lasted months without positive response.
The plight of the resident doctors of the affected states was greatly bemoaned by the association’s president Dr Dare Ishaya who showed his expressions at the press conference in Abuja where he announced the suspension of the strike action by NARD as of 2nd August.
All 79 chapters of the association from both state and federal tertiary health institutions across Nigeria observed the 65 days strike.
In the words of the president of the association, the decision to suspend the strike was a consensus reached by the association during a meeting of the National Executive of the association held on Sunday which intended to evaluate the efforts of FG in implementing the association’s demand.
Nevertheless, the president of NARD said that the federal government FG had shown the spirit of readiness to withdraw the suit she filed against the resident doctors from the National High Court. To this end Dr Ishaya added that the government has started the payment of medical residency training funds among the rest.
The suspension however in effect would be observed for only 6 weeks after which the National Executive Council NEC will reassemble to review the progress, said “Dr Ishaya”.
Dr Ishaya lamented on the saddened expressions and concerned which NEC showed on the conditions of her members in the various states in the country, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo state whose governments are owing 21months, 6months, 5 months and 3months arrears of the monthly remunerations respectively.
The following were note by NEC:
Non-resolution of perennial issues such as:
• Non payment of salary shortfalls of 2014 – 2016 to her members regardless of the series of agreements as reached with FG
• National minimum wage consequential adjustment
• Delayed payment of death-in-service insurance benefits to the next of kin of our fallen heroes considering their sacrifices to the country in active service.
• Non payment of COVID 19 inducement allowance to some of our members in federal and most state tertiary health institutions.
• Slow paced upward review of hazard allowance.
In this regard, the association will be suspending its strike recollection after 6weeks to appraise the movement of the federal government in addressing their needs.
Dr Ishaya added, “ After critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that birthed the ongoing strike as stated. NEC resolved by the votes of a simple majority, to suspend the total and indefinite strike action embarked upon on the 2nd day of August 2021. Therefore our members will resume full work on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 by 8am”
The National Executive Council thereby urged FG to reciprocate the good faith and respect which the association has shown by ensuring the continuous processing and payment of the ongoing 2021 MRTF while ensuring that provision for 2022 is captured in the budgets, also commencement of the process of withdrawing the court case against NARD as a sign of good will, commencement of the process of payment of the salary arrears of her members just migrated to IPPIS from GIFMIS platform.
The federal government should in response to this good faith affect an urgent payment of the arrears of salaries and allowances owed to NARD members in the various state tertiary health institutions as observed above, NEC urged FG.
More so, NEC urged the state governments to ensure domestication of the medical residency training Act in their state tertiary health institutions as done in Delta and Benue states.
Recalling that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the Federal government would invoke the “no work, no pay” rule for the striking doctors.
The president of the NARD association, Dr Ishaya said,” We are suspending the strike for 6 weeks to give room for the movement in some unrelieved areas. There was a stalemate in the enrolment of our members into IPPIS and payment of their arrears.
Following the proceedings invoked by the government subject to the trade dispute article 41 which says “ no work, no pay” and considering the fact that members have been enrolled into IPPIS, it means there was not going to be any salary in their accounts. Moreover without them being paid, they wouldn’t get their arrears. This we felt as a stalemate which is supposed to give a window to see if FG can start paying them salaries and push their arrears into their accounts.
However, on the issue of “no work , no pay” we have not agreed to forfeit our salaries. The government’s unnecessary delayed response to the strike led to its prolongation. The government preferred going to court rather than coming to the table with the association , thus further prolonging negotiations. We do hope for a positive outcome of the whole scene.