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Why resident doctors ended two-month-old strike

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THE National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) has called off its two-month-old strike.

The decision emanated from pressure from the Nigerian government to avoid a total collapse of the nation’s health sector, The ICIR gathered on Monday.

Our reporter was reliably informed that the government had panicked since the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) issued threat notices to the government in August and September over unmet demands.

JOHESU has repeatedly issued three separate notices within the two months, warning that the third notice would attract dire consequences if not favourably considered. 

Such a threat has always culminated in workers scaling down services.

JOHESU and NARD’s simultaneous strikes mean a total suspension of services across public hospitals.

Since NARD proceeded on strike on August 2, only JOHESU and consultant doctors have provided services in public hospitals.

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The NARD members constitute the majority of doctors working in hospitals, while JOHESU has more hospital workers as members.

The doctors embarked on strike over unmet demands amidst the nation’s fight against COVID-19, cholera and other diseases ravaging the country.

Efforts by the Federal Government to end the strike failed, even after it procured court judgments.

The ICIR reports that NARD called off its strike on Monday, a week after it changed its leadership.

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) had accused the immediate past leadership of NARD of “consistently refusing to carry the parent body along in her critical decision-making processes.”

The NARD’s immediate past President Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi had repeatedly vowed to continue with the strike and threatened to appeal the court orders.

The ICIR reported how crisis erupted between the NMA and NARD over the latter’s exclusion from a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari by the former.

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The association called off the strike Monday morning after a marathon meeting of its national officers.

Newly-inaugurated President of NARD Dare Ishaya told our reporter on Sunday that he met with the leadership of NMA with other principal officers of NARD.

A day after meeting the NMA, NARD suspended its strike.

But the association only shifted ground for six weeks. It will meet after six weeks to appraise the government’s response.

In a communique signed by Ishaya and the association’s Secretary-General Suleiman Ismail, NARD said the government had met a substantial part of its demands.

Some of the demands met by the government are: the commencement of payment of medical residency training funds; migration of members from GIFMIS to the IPPIS payment platform; withdrawal of the case against NARD at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), and withdrawal of circular removing house officers from the scheme of service by the head of civil service of the federation.

However, the association was dissatisfied with the alleged failure of Abia, Imo, Ekiti and Ondo states to pay the salaries of their members.

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The states owe 21, six, five and three months of salary arrears, respectively, NARD stated.

Other unresolved issues are:

  • Non-payment of the salary shortfalls of 2014 to 2016 to the association.
  • National minimum wage consequential adjustment.
  • Delay in payment of death in service insurance benefit to the next of kin of late members of NARD.
  • Non-payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance.
  • Review of hazard allowance from five thousand naira.

The association has, therefore, directed its members to resume work Wednesday morning.

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