National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has suspended its 63-day-old strike which it embarked on August 2, 2021.
The strike had come 113 days after it suspended a similar action April 10, 2012 after 10 days.
LEADERSHIP checks revealed that the just suspended strike was the 6th embarked on by the doctors under the present administration.
The recurring strikes were caused by what the doctors described as the federal government’s failure to honour the agreements it reached with them.
NARD national president, Dr Godiya Ishaya, who called off the strike yesterday, said that the doctors would resume work tomorrow at 8:00 am.
Ishaya said the decision to suspend the strike was reached after a review of the progress they have made on their demands.
He said, “We met on 1st October, 2021, but went on recess for the National Executive Council (NEC) members to go back to their various congresses and have a robust discussion of what we have been able to push through and resume. So, having considered them and seen the position of the various congresses, we decided to suspend the strike officially, starting from 6th October, 2021, at 8:00 am. That was the position that was taken.
“We decided to officially resume on Wednesday considering the fact that some of our members who travelled had to come back and with the insecurity in the country people are afraid to travel at night,” he said.
Among the reasons for the strike were undue hardship faced by NARD members on GIFMIS platform arising from delays in the payment of their salaries from three to seven months. The association also expressed concerns over the conditions of their members under various state governments, especially Abia, Imo and Ondo States which owe their doctors 19 months, seven months and four months’ salaries respectively.
Others were the “circular from the head of service of the federation removing house officers from the scheme of service and the consequent implementation by the Lagos State government.
Bench fee for outside postings by resident doctors has been abolished, however, some chief medical directors have renamed the bench fee as training fee causing hardship on her members.
The non-payment of the National Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment, merry-go-round behaviour of the Federal Ministry of Health in disbursing the salaries shortfalls to her members.
However, Ishaya said some of these demands had been met by the government.
He said, “That is why we say suspension because when we looked at the demands, there were points that have actually been significantly addressed and there were some that have been stalemated because the government was invoking the trade dispute act on us and those part that the government were invoking the trade dispute act which says that ‘you shouldn’t pay any remuneration to any employee who has engaged in any form of lockout or strike.”
Ishaya said some of the minimal demands were difficult to achieve with the enforcement of “no work, no pay,” adding that, “one of those was the fact we demanded that some of our members should be enrolled into IPPIs and their arrears of four to six months now being paid to them.
“The government said they have enrolled them but they are not able to pay-rolled them because we are on strike. So, they assumed a position that they cannot pay-rolled them because we are on strike and without being pay-rolled they cannot get their arrears,” he said.
Ishaya said the government insisted that since their migration to IPPIS they have not received any salary to verify if they are really the owners of those accounts.
“So, we have to give a window so that their salaries will be paid in order to identify their accounts and their arrears will also be pushed into those accounts,” he said.
…UCTH Suspends Internship Programme Over Protest
Interns at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital (UCTH) in Cross River State yesterday took to the streets to protest unpaid 1-month allowance owed them by the management.
The interns who defied police warning not to storm the streets, did so chanting songs in Pidgin English such as “We know go gree ooh, we no go gree” and carried several placards with inscriptions such as “Pay us our allowances, stop harassing us.”
In a chat with journalists after the protest, one of them, Mr. Gideon Duba, lamented how the management of UCTH had owed them for 11 months, stressing that each time they tried engaging the authorities of the hospital on the issue, they would be given frivolous excuses.
Gideon said the UCTH used the police to intimidate them over the salary arrears amounting to about N480 million. He called on the federal government, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the minister of health to help them resolve the crisis.
In a memo dated August 2, 2021 released, the hospital management said, “We (interns) have been slammed with one-month suspension to pave the way for the management of the hospital to get our issue resolved.
The interns stated that he was shocked that nothing had been done despite a series of apology letters written to management of the hospital to pardon them.
He said, “We are 352 in number. We are owed over N480 million and when you open up, they will call the security agents to come after you. We are being enslaved, we call on the federal government, the EFCC, minister of health, to look into this issue. He maintained.
Meanwhile, the hospital has issued a statement suspending the services of the interns pending when the management and the board will meet to resolve the issues affecting the services of the interns.
The suspension followed death threats and several text messages suspected to have been sent to the chief medical director (CMD) of the hospital for owing them.