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FG pleads with resident doctors to end strike, says six out of eight demands already met

THE Federal Government has pleaded with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to suspend its ongoing nationwide strike, saying that it has already addressed six out of the eight demands listed by the association.

Chris Ngige, the Minister for Labour and Employment, made the plea in his office in Abuja on Monday.

A statement issued by Charles Akpan, Deputy Director and Head, Press and Public Relations at the Ministry, emailed to The ICIR said the Ngige asked NARD to respect the country’s laws and suspend its industrial action, adding that Labour Laws and ILO conventions enjoined them to sheath their swords in time like this.

“When issues are being conciliated, all parties are enjoined not to employ arm-twisting methods to intimidate or foist a state of helplessness on the other party; in this case, your employers,” the Minister stated.

Ngige further said that a high percentage of the association’s demand have been addressed, adding that with the existence of a pending court case, the association had no reason to embark on any strike action

The minister also said that the groups, Citizens Advocacy for Social Rights (CASER) and Association of Women in Trading and Agriculture (AWITA), had asked for an interlocutory injunction against further strike actions by NARD, adding that all parties had already appeared and exchanged court processes.

He, however, noted that in spite of lean resources occasioned by the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on oil output, the Federal Government has 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 2020.

Ngige also stated that the Federal Government has expended N9.3 billion as premium for Group Life Insurance for medical and health workers, as well as for all civil and public servants in Federal organisations that are treasury funded, to run from March 2020 to March 2021.

The Minister also disclosed that the Federal Government appropriated the sum of N4 billion in the Special Intervention COVID-19 N500 billion 2020 Appropriation for funding of Medical Residency Training and intended to do same in the ongoing 2021 Budget. He further stated that N4 billion has been processed for payment.

He pointed out that the matter between NARD and the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital has been resolved, while the resolution of the issue of state governments not addressing the consequential adjustment to the new minimum wage, and low patronage of Residency programme were ongoing.

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The Minister has, however, reconvened the ongoing conciliation meeting between NARD and Federal Ministries of Health, and Finance, Budget and National Planning to be held on Wednesday at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

THE Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), had on September 4 announced that it would embark on an indefinite nationwide strike beginning from Monday, September 7 over government’s failure to pay its members the COVID-19 hazard allowances.

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