The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, has asked the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), to end the ongoing strike which they kick-started on Monday.
The resident doctors issued a nationwide strike ultimatum to press on eight demands centred on a pay rise, adequate facilities, and better welfare packages.
According to Ngige, in a statement on Monday, the resident doctors should embrace dialogue to resolve outstanding issues with the Federal Government.
The Minister, who listed the efforts by the Federal Government, maintained that six of the demands have already addressed.
“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.”
Ngige stressed that 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.
“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 to the extent that 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.”
The Minister noted that “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.
Similarly, Mr Ngige said 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. He added that the N4 billion has been processed for payment.
“Other issues like the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital right between NARD and the authorities were addressed while 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.”
The Minister asked the union not to throw caution to the wind by ignoring the case before the National Industrial Court.
He stated that 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.
Meanwhile, the Minister fixed 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.