By Johnbosco Agbakwuru – Abuja
The Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Doctors NARD met at the Conference Hall of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Abuja, over the recent strike notice by the Resident Doctors.
At the meeting, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige explained to the Doctors efforts the government had made in ensuring that all the promises made to them were fulfilled and the challenges the government was facing.
Senator Ngige assured all health workers of the commitment of the Federal Government to their safety and welfare.
According to him, “The Federal Government will continue to appreciate the untiring efforts of all health workers. The President at every time, remembers you and thanks you for the immense sacrifice you make for the nation and firmly believes that nothing is too much to do for you to show appreciation. Government will do more to protect the health of our people.”
The meeting which was also attended by the Minister of State for Labour, Festus Keyamo (SAN) Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunimbe Mamora, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, William Nwankwo Alo, representatives of the office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Office of the Head of Service of Federation, Ministry of Finance among others tackled all the contending issues between the National Association of Resident Doctors and the Federal Government.
The meeting will reconvene on Thursday August 6th 2020 to take stock of the implementation of the agreement reached.
Briefing the press on the agreement with NARD, Ngige revealed that the Federal Government has so far spent N15.8 billion for hazard allowances in the federal teaching hospitals, federal medical centres as well as some other non-covid-19 hospitals where doctors have also been treating COVID-19 cases.
“The Federal Government has cleared the April/May special allowances which is no doubt a big feat, knowing that this is for special allowances only, and at a time government earning has fallen short of the expected earning, that the affected medical personnels will also draw their normal salaries and other allowances.”
He acknowledged that the June allowances were still outstanding because the budget has been eaten into by developments not originally captured such as pay for house officers, interns, NYSC doctors as well as volunteers.
A statement issued by Charles Akpan Deputy Director, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry added that government was already liaising with the Presidential Taskforce to sort out especially for volunteers .
The meeting also agreed that the 20 per cent top-up for all health personnels inside the Covid wards and isolation centres of the hospitals should be effected as quickly as possible, hence, a directive was given to the Ministry of Health and the Office of the Accountant General of the federation to reconcile all matters relating to this by Tuesday,August 4th 2020 to enable an urgent payment.
On the Residency Training Fund, the Minister said, “it was captured in the 2020 budget and we have noticed that the subhead was captured in the service-wide vote will need some amendment by the Budget Office in liaison with the National Assembly to handle the problem, so that implementation can start as soon as possible.”
He further said the Federal Government has paid all the premium for Group Life Insurance spanning between April 17 2020 to April 16 2021 for all federal civil servants except those in the revenue generating agencies such as customs, FIRS, NNPC among others, who can afford their own insurance.
He added that agreement has been reached to forward the nominal roll of the workers of the Health Ministry and its parastatals to the six handling Insurance companies latest next week.
He added that problems arising from the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage in the Health Ministry especially those on GIFMIS, non-regular staff such as interns and NYSC members would be resolved as soon as NARD submits the list of affected workers to the Ministry.
The meeting also set up a committee to resolve the lingering problem between management of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and NARD.
Earlier, the Minister advised trade unions to always follow due process in seeking redress for trade disputes, arguing that first in line is negotiation with the parent ministry who is their primary employer , and where the issue could not be resolved, the Ministry of Labour and Employment would come in and from there to the Arbitration Panel and where it also fails, to the Industrial Court or National Assembly.
He said the situation where the Ministry of Health had to learn that the above complaints of NARD from the National Assembly was not proper.
The President of NARD who also briefed the press thanked the Federal Government for its manifest commitment and expressed optimism that progress would have made by the time the meeting reconvenes August 6th.