Politics

Federal Government threatens NARD as doctors embark on strike despite agreement

resident doctors

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, has threatened that the Federal Government would decide the fate of doctors if they refused to call off the ongoing strike before weekend.

The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) had on Thursday embraked on “a total and indefinite strike” over unpaid salaries and the review of their N5000 hazard allowance.

Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, NARD President, while speaking on Channels TV confirmed that the strike commenced by 8am on Thursday, despite the agreement signed with the FG.

He noted that the proposals of the FG were not new, adding that the decision for the strike was for the benefit of all health workers.

“We had a meeting with the Minister of Labour from 4pm (Wednesday) till about 12am this (Thursday) morning.”

The strike began just few hours after the FG had signed a memorandum of action with NARD. The agreement was signed after a meeting that lasted 7 hours between NARD leadership and the FG representatives.

Dr. Ngige had after the meeting told newsmen that the doctors will hopefully not embark on the strike.

“Twelve hours is a lot of time. Everybody will be working; Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria will be working and hopefully by tomorrow (Friday), you will experience the payment as agreed here for the second category of doctors (an overflow of the MDCN quota). We hope it must happen tomorrow and continue.

“So, by the time the Chairman of the CMDs comes up with his final list and harmonise it with MDCN, we won’t have issue anymore over this payment or whether some doctors have not been paid,” the minister said.

Reacting however to the strike, the FG noted that the doctors violated the agreement, saying that after the agreement, the doctors shouldn’t have proceeded with the industrial action.

The Labour Minister expressed surprise over the development.

Speaking to The Punch over the development, the minister said;

“You should be asking them (the resident doctors) what went wrong. They signed an agreement that we had with them. It is called a memorandum for action.

“We took all the items one-by-one and had an agreement on each item and we agreed to reconvene in the next four weeks to know the degree and level of implementation.

“We agreed on everything. There is no point we did not agree on. Get a copy of the agreement and see what I am talking about.”

He noted that the representatives of NARD gave him the impression that they were still meeting on the agreement.

“It (the strike) is in bad faith which I am ready to concede to them that they don’t know the implication of what they have done in labour parlance.

“They have come for conciliation. Their trade dispute has been apprehended. Agreements have been reached and they reneged on the agreements. How the thing works is that if you don’t agree on anything, then you don’t sign an agreement”

When asked if the government would be considering a no-work-no-pay, the minister said; “We have not reached that (no-work-no-pay) stage yet. People’s lives are involved. Their own is not the same with teachers in universities who can claim that they will teach day and night to cover lost grounds.

“This one is that if you don’t treat a patient, the patient dies and you can’t bring the person back to life. If by this weekend, they are still pressing on with their strike, we will look at all the labour laws and the options available to government including but not limited to enterprise; the employers trying to protect their enterprise and the lives of their patients.”

He noted that; “It is the Ministry of Health which is their primary employer that will bring that out. I am not their primary employer.”

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