Doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have again threatened to commence strike if the Nigerian government fails to meet their demands.
This development is contained in a communique issued at the end of the NARD’s National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held from 25th to 30th July in Lafia, Nasarawa State.
The communique was signed by the president of the association, Godiya Ishaya.
The doctors said both the federal and state governments had defaulted on agreements made with the doctors in the past.
It said four states – Imo, Ondo, Ekiti, and Gombe – are owing doctors in their workforce 10, five, three, and two months respectively, in salaries and other arrears.
“The NEC shall by the expiration of the two weeks ultimatum, reconvene to review the progress made so far and take further actions for which nationwide industrial harmony may not be guaranteed,” the doctors said in their communique.
The doctors are demanding, amongst other things, the immediate implementation and payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears.
NARD said some arrears for 2014, 2015, and 2016 have remained unpaid despite several negotiations with the government.
The doctors noted that since the implementation of a new minimum wage in 2019, some of their members are yet to benefit from the consequential adjustment.
“The NEC demands immediate payment of consequential adjustment of minimum wage to our members who have been deprived of this benefit since it was implemented several years ago.”
The doctors are also demanding an immediate review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and other related allowances given the current economic situation in the country.
The doctors said this is also in line with the agreed terms from the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that it will be reviewed regularly.
NARD noted that the Abia State Government had made little progress towards implementing the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA 2007), and payment of 26 months’ salary areas owed resident doctors at the Abia State University Teaching Hospital (ABSUTH).
It appealed to the state government to keep to the latest agreement of paying seven months’ salary arrears within one week in the first instance, and two months’ salary arrears monthly to its members until the arrears are cleared.
Health sector activities
The association appealed to the government to increase allocation to the health sector to 15 per cent of the national budget as agreed by heads of African countries.
The doctors called for steps to be taken toward curtailing the brain drain in the health sector and finding ways of eliminating all bureaucratic bottlenecks in the employment and replacement of doctors leaving the nation for greener pastures.
The NARD also condemned attacks on its members by the public and, as well, on other health professionals in their workplaces.
It enjoined the government at all levels to look into the issue and thoroughly investigate the ongoing cases.
It also called for measures to be put in place to nip this menace in the bud to forestall future occurrences, noting that “these inhumane acts have affected its members both physically and mentally.”
One of many strikes
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the last strike embarked on by doctors left patients stranded at various health institutions.
In 2020 alone, medical practitioners were on strike three times over demands for allowances for treating COVID-19 patients and an increment in basic salary.
They cited several reasons, including delays in the payment of their salaries and allowances.
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