July 6, 2023

Strike looms as doctors give FG two-week ultimatum to meet demands 

Kogi doctors protest staff shortage: 158 leave in 4 Years, female colleagues face miscarriages


The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Federal Government to meet its demands or risk industrial action in the health sector.

According to NAN, the association said this in a communique issued on Wednesday after its virtual Extraordinary National Executive Council Meeting (E-NEC).

The communique was signed jointly by NARD’s National President, Dr Innocent Orji, Secretary-General, Dr Chikezie Kelechi and the Publicity and Social Secretary, Dr Umar Musa.

Recall that members of the association embarked on a five-day warning strike on May 17 and also called on the FG to address its concerns before May 29 otherwise, there would be industrial disharmony.

The industrial action was embarked upon after the two-week ultimatum issued to the Federal Government on April 29 expired on May 13 without the issues being addressed.

Members of the association however suspended the strike on May 21.

According to the communique, the NEC meeting was held to appraise the level of implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Federal Government on May 19 following the five-day warning strike embarked upon by the association on May 17.

It was to also discuss other pressing issues bordering on the welfare of NARD members.

It disclosed that, “NEC hereby wishes to further extend her already expired ultimatum issued to the government by two weeks with effect from July 5, 2023.

“The NEC of NARD insists on immediate implementation of minimum of 200 per cent increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) and upward review of the associated allowances as requested in her previous letters on the subject matter.

“Since the current economic realities in the country cannot justify the continued payment of CONMESS as it is at the moment or any increment below the 200 per cent as demanded.

“For purposes of emphasis, at the expiration of this further extended ultimatum by July 19, if all these demands are not met, we cannot guarantee industrial harmony in the health sector nationwide.”

The resident doctors said it has been seven weeks since the end of the five-day warning strike embarked upon by the association to press home its demands, yet the resolutions of the conciliatory meeting chaired by the former Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige had not been implemented.

They also expressed worry that the circular on one-for-one replacement of clinical staff who exited the various tertiary hospitals across the country was yet to be released.

“NEC recalls that the conciliatory meeting agreed that the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation will release the implementation guideline on or before June 5 for onward transmission to the Tertiary Hospitals for implementation.

“This has not happened till now. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses in these tertiary hospitals continue to break down and suffer burnout effect, assaults and harassment consequent upon the severe manpower shortage occasioned by this.”

It also said that the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) had yet to be paid as agreed during the conciliatory meeting and that the skipping arrears too had not been paid several years after repeated request for it to be paid.

On the increase in CONMESS, the association said that the parameters it used in arriving at a demand for minimum of 200 per cent increase had significantly changed, following the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant massive increase in fuel price and general cost of living.

It added that using the current parameters, for the members to be returned to the same expenditure level of CONMESS when it was implemented in 2014, an upward review to the tune of 550 per cent is required.

“Our members now find it difficult to transport themselves to work and carry out other numerous responsibilities required of them as medical doctors because of these factors.”

The association, however, called for the immediate payment of all outstanding arrears owed its members, including the hazard allowance and the skipping arrears of 2014-2016, and the arrears of consequential adjustment of minimum wage.

It also called for the immediate release and implementation of the guidelines on one-for-one replacement of clinical staff to cushion the effect of the massive manpower shortage in hospitals nationwide.