FG urges resident doctors to suspend strike

FG urges resident doctors to suspend strike

The Federal Government on Tuesday urged the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to suspend its ongoing industrial action across the country.


The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, made the appeal via a statement signed by Mr Charles Akpan, Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations, of the ministry, in Abuja.


Ngige said that it was imperative for NARD to suspend the industrial action, as the Federal Government had already addressed six out of the eight demands listed by the association.


He said that government would reconvene a conciliation meeting between NARD and Federal Ministries of Health, and Finance, Budget and National Planning on Wednesday at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in efforts to stop the strike.


He said that the extant labour laws and International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions stipulated that whenever issues were being conciliated, all parties should refrain from using arm-twisting methods to intimidate or foist a state of helplessness on the other party; in this case, your employers, the Federal Ministry of Health.


Ngige, therefore, appealed to NARD to respect the country’s laws and suspend its industrial action, saying that most of the association’s demands had already been addressed.


“This is coupled with the existence of a pending case in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), instituted by two civil society groups against NARD, the Attorney-General of the Federation, and the Ministers of Health, and Labour and Employment.


“NARD had no reason to embark on an industrial action,” he said.


The minister also said that the groups, Citizens Advocacy for Social Rights (CASER) and Association of Women in Trading and Agriculture (AWITA), had also asked for an interlocutory injunction against further strike by NARD.


He added that all the parties had already appeared in court and exchanged court processes.


Ngige said that in spite of lean resources of the country, occasioned by the effect of COVID-19 on oil output, the Federal Government had already spent N20 billion on the Special Hazard and Inducement Allowances for medical and health workers for April, May and June 2020, with a few outstanding payments to some health workers for June.


He also said that the Federal Government had expended N9.3 billion as premium for Group Life Insurance for medical and health workers, as well as all civil and public servants in federal organisations which were treasury funded, to run from March 2020 to March 2021.


He disclosed that the Federal Government had appropriated N4 billion in the Special Intervention COVID-19 Fund, while N500 billion was earmarked in 2020 appropriation for the funding of Medical Residency Training and would replicate the appropriation in the 2021 Budget.


He also said that N4 billion had been processed for payment.


Besides, the minister said that the matter between NARD and the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital had been resolved.


He also said that efforts to resolve of the issues regarding the failure of state governments to address the consequential adjustment to the new minimum wage and low patronage of residency programme were underway.

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