Renowned rights activist and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana; a retired professor of Botany and pioneer member of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Omotoye Olorode, and the national president of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Godiya Ishaya, are among discussants to appraise strategies towards ending the frequent frictions between the Nigerian government and the labour unions.
The event, a symposium being put in place by the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD), University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH), is part of activities scheduled to mark the association’s first quarter meeting which holds Saturday, February 5 and Monday, 7.
According to the president of the association, Jumbo Aniefiok, organisers of the event, the programme is scheduled to hold both physically and virtually.
Some of the themes of the symposium include; “Professionals, Political Struggles and Strikes- The Past, the Present and the Future;” “No Work, No Pay: Professionals, the Law and the Burden of Social Responsibility,” among others.
Why such themes?
Speaking on the phone with our reporter, Mr Aniefiok said the effort is to highlight ways of averting frequent conflicts between the government and the unions of professionals in the interest of the Nigerian masses.
He said the speakers have been carefully selected considering their records of contributions to national struggles and labour movements the country and beyond, and their patriotism to the Nigeria project.
He said; “We want to know steps to take in engaging the government as professionals so as to find ways to avoid going on strike if possible. Embarking on strikes frequently has not helped the doctors, patients and the government. That is why we want the speakers to enlighten us and the general public on how to engage in dialogues as professionals.”
Mr Aniefiok said the meeting will also focus on examining the legality and steps to take when the government raises the ‘no work, no pay’ rule.
“That is why we are bringing in the human rights lawyer, Mr Falana, to educate us on how to take legal steps in such situations,” he added.
Resident doctors across public health facilities in Nigeria were on strike for over 60 days between August 2, 2021 and October 6.
It was the third time the medical practitioners were on strike in 2021 alone over demands for allowances for treating COVID-19 patients and increment in basic salary.
At the root of the strike actions is usually the government’s constant failure to honour agreements reached with NARD over its demands.
But since the strike was called off in early October in 2021, several engagements between the authorities and the doctors appear to be yielding positive results with the government approving about N50 billion for the payment of hazard allowance for health workers.
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