Dayo Ojerinde and Deborah Tolu-Kolawole
5 October 2021
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The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors on Monday knocked the governments of Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo States for owing its members salary arrears of 21, six, five and three months respectively.
The association’s President, Dr Dare Ishaya, bemoaned the plights of resident doctors in the affected states at a press conference in Abuja during which he announced the decision of NARD to suspend its strike that commenced on August 2.
The 65-day strike was observed by all the 79 chapters of the association from state and federal tertiary health institutions across Nigeria.
According to Ishaya, the decision to suspend the strike was taken at a meeting of the association’s National Executive Council on Sunday to review the efforts of the Federal Government in implementing NARD’s demands.
The meeting ended in the early hours of Monday.
The NARD President said the Federal Government had also shown readiness to withdraw the suit against the resident doctors from the National Industrial Court.
He added that the government has started the payment of the medical residency training fund among others.
Ishaya however said the action would only be suspended for six weeks after which the NEC will reconvene to review progress.
He said, “The NEC observed with great concern the conditions of our members in various state government employments, especially Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo state governments who are currently owed 21 months, six months, five months and three months of salary arrears respectively.
“The NEC noted the non-resolution of the following perennial issues: non-payment of the salary shortfalls of 2014 to 2016 to her members despite several engagement with the Federal Government; national minimum wage consequential adjustment; delay in payment of death in service insurance benefit to the next of kin of our fallen heroes despite their sacrifices to the country; and non-payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to some of our members in federal and most state tertiary health institutions.
“The NEC noted the slow pace of upward review of hazard allowance.”
Despite these, Ishaya added that the association would be suspending its strike to reconvene six weeks later to appraise the Federal Government.
He added, “After critical appraisal of the performances of both federal and state governments on all the issues that led to 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 August 2, 2021.
“Therefore, our members will resume full work on Wednesday, October 6, 2021 by 8am.
“The NEC urged the Federal Government to reciprocate the good faith and
trust shown by the association by ensuring the continuous processing and payment of the ongoing 2021 MRTF while ensuring that provision for 2022 is adequately captured in the 2022 budget; commencement of the process of withdrawing the court case against NARD as agreed, as a sign of goodwill; and commencement of the process of payment of the salary arrears of our members just migrated to IPPIS from GIFMIS platform.
“The NEC urged state governments to urgently pay arrears of salaries and allowances owed to our members in their various state tertiary health institutions as observed above.
“The 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.
“The NEC will reconvene after six weeks to reappraise progress made on the implementation of the agreements.”
Earlier Ishaya on Monday on the telephone told one of our correspondents that the doctors would not forgo the salaries of its members withheld during the 63-day strike.
Recall 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.
But Ishaya said, “We are suspending the strike for six weeks to give room for movement in some unrelieved areas. There was a stalemate in the enrolment of our members into the IPPIS and payment of their arrears.
“The government was invoking the trade dispute article 41, that is the ‘no work, no pay.’ And since they have been enrolled into IPPIS, it means there was not going to be any salary in their accounts. Without them being paid, they won’t get their arrears; that was a stalemate we felt we should give a window to see if the government can start paying them salaries and push their arrears into their accounts.
“On the issue of ‘no work, no pay,’ we have not agreed to forfeit our salaries. The strike was unnecessarily prolonged because of the government’s response to the strike. Instead of sitting on the table, the government decided to go to court and that kept prolonging negotiation.”