The leadership of the striking National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has reacted to the “confusing” verdict of the National Industrial Court on Monday, which instructed the feuding parties “to suspend all forms of hostilities and maintain status quo.”
Speaking on the phone with PREMIUM TIMES’ reporter shortly after the court gave the order, the NARD President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, said his union only heard of the court sitting on the pages of newspapers after the sitting was over.
“We are not aware that the matter came up. We are just hearing it from news platforms and that is why we did not appear before the court,” he said.
He said the information at the union’s disposal was that the matter was adjourned to September 15, and so Monday’s sitting was strange to the union.
Mr Okhuaihesuyi also debunked what he described as rumour that the court ordered his union’s back to work, saying the strike continues until their demands are met by the government.
Contrary to reports by a section of the media that the court ordered the striking doctors back to work, PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the judge, John Targema, rejected an application to order the striking doctors to resume work.
It was the second time the judge would be refusing to give such an order following a similar position Mr Targema held on Thursday when approached by a civil society organisation, Rights for All International.
Government’s interpretation differs
Shortly after the pronouncement of the court on Monday, the ministry of labour and employment issued a statement announcing that the court already ordered the doctors to resume work.
The statement, which was signed by the ministry’s spokesperson, Charles Akpan, said the presiding judge, Mr Targema, granted the order of interlocutory injunction, “compelling all members of the Defendants/Respondents in all the states of the Federation to suspend the said industrial action.”
“The Court held that the continued downing of tools by the striking doctors has inflicted a lot of damage on the health system and the sick, especially in this perilous times of COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement added.
The minister of labour and employment, Chris Ngige, also described the court ruling as a welcome development.
Mr Ngige, however, reaffirmed that the ruling will not “prevent the Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget Office of the Federation (BOF), Office of the Head of Service of the Federation (OHOCSF) and the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) from the implementation of the agreements contained in the MoU reached at the last meeting with the NMA and affiliate associations with timelines affixed to them.”
Why NARD refused sign MoU
Asked why his union refused to sign the memorandum of understanding at the last marathon peace parley held on the matter, the NARD president said the details of the refusal are already the subject of the matter before the court.
He said his union would not like to speak on the matter since doing so would be sub judice.
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