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Doctors take crucial decision today as strike hits two months

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THE National Executive Committee (NEC) of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) will meet today to make crucial decisions on the strike by NARD.          

The strike, which began on August 2, clocks two months today.

NARD had, on August 2, resumed the strike it suspended on April 11.

The group had ignored two court orders, directing its members to resume work.

The National Industrial Court sitting in Abuja had, on August 23, ordered the practitioners back to work.

The court, again, directed the doctors to return to work on September 17.

The NARD vowed to continue to down tools until the government met its demands.

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The association had based its decision to resume the strike on the failure of the Federal Government to honour the agreement it reached with the doctors before they suspended the earlier action in April.

Giving its second ruling, Justice Bashar Alkali directed both NARD and the Nigerian government to return to negotiating table.

The court said the disagreement between the parties should not lead to the loss of lives in health facilities.

Amidst the strike, NARD, on September 26, elected new leaders, headed by Dare Ishaya, at its Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference in Bauchi State.

Ishaya told The ICIR Friday night that his group would meet today to decide the next step to take on the strike.

The ICIR had reported how the strike dragged after NARD denied signing a memorandum of understanding with the government at a previous meeting in August.

President Muhammadu Buhari compelled the Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige to meet the doctors after the minister had vowed to sack them for abandoning their duty posts.

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The NARD’s parent association, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), had supported the resident doctors and urged the government to meet their demands, a failure of which NMA threatened to take appropriate action against the government.

But crisis erupted between NARD and NMA  after the former accused the latter of excluding its members from a visit to President Buhari, where it said it could have presented its grievances before the president.

Meanwhile, The ICIR reports that the government is making frantic efforts to avert a total collapse of the sector, as the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) may down tools on Monday.

Among the efforts by the government is the payment of residency training fund, which is a major demand by NARD.

But the government is yet to shift ground on its vow not to pay the doctors for the period they were on strike.

The NARD has repeatedly said it will not resume work until its members receive payment alerts for the period the strike has lasted.

JOHESU, which may begin strike on Monday, comprises all hospitals workers, except doctors.

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This newspaper had reported that JOHESU might begin strike this weekend

Its President Josiah Biobelemoye told our reporter on Saturday that the third warning notice the group issued to the government would expire on Monday. 

JOHESU had issued three notices to the government in the last six weeks over unmet demands.

 

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