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Strike: FG and Resident Doctors reach deal

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The Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Wednesday reached some agreements to end the industrial action embarked upon by the doctors on Monday September 7.

This was contained in a Communique issued on Wednesday in Abuja at the end of a conciliatory meeting between the NARD members and Federal Government Ministries Departments and Agencies at the instance of the Ministry of Labour and Employment in line with the provisions of Trade Disputes Act CAP, T.8, laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The doctors had declared an indefinite strike in all Federal and State hospitals to press home about 8 demands as they accused the government of being ‘deceptive’ and insensitive to the plight of the doctors. But after Wednesday’s discussions, there are indications that NARD led by Aliyu Sokomba may end the strike on Thursday, September 10.

Reading the Communique after the meeting, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, noted that the Federal Government had earlier addressed most of the original eight (8) demands made by NARD and the remaining two (2) were in different stages of being resolved.

After extensive deliberations, the NARD reached understandings with the government on each of the demands.

On the Provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) the NARD agreed that the Hospitals and Isolation Centres now have sufficient PPE as the Government has provided sufficient equipment to where they are needed.

On the issue of the provision of group life insurance for doctors and other Health Care Workers and payment of death-in-service benefit to next of kin/beneficiaries, Ngige said “The Federal Government had paid the total sum of Nine Billion Three Hundred Million Naira (N9.3 billion) to Insurance Companies for Life Group Insurance and payment of death benefits for Health Workers.

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“Enrollment was by the submission of nominal rolls by the various Health Institutions which NARD had been mandated at previous meeting to accomplish.”

The meeting noted further that as part of the resolution claims had to be made before the Insurance benefits could be realised. “It was decided that NARD should submit copies of claims already made to the Insurance Companies through the Hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation that would ensure that the Insurance Companies pay the claims. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment should be copied,” the Communique said.

On the issue of Universal implementation of the Medical Residency Training Act in all Federal and State Hospitals, the Communique said that the 2020 Appropriation Act was revised due to Covid-19 pandemic. It added that the Four Billion Naira (N4B) appropriated for Residency Training under a wrong heading for Medical Residency Training is to be vired before expenditure.

“The process of amendment is therefore ongoing and is expected that this process and cash backing will be through in two (2) weeks, ” the Communique read.

On the payment of outstanding 2014, 2015, and 2016 arrears,
the meeting recalled that it had been agreed that the issue would be further discussed post Covid-19. Therefore, no agreement was breached.

On the Implementation of the Payment of the Special Hazard/Inducement Allowance, the
Meeting was satisfied that the N20B already appropriated in 2020 Covid-19 Budget has been exhausted to N19B and praised the Federal Government and President Muhammadu Buhari for approving additional N8,901,231,773.55 to pay up the large chunk of the June 2020 Covid-19 allowance to all Medical Health Workers.

“This has been cash backed and the mandate sent to the Central Bank of Nigeria for payments to start with effect from today September 9, 2020. This would be bring the total disbursement to about N28B,” the Communique said.

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On the Permanent New Rate Of Hazard Allowance, the meeting agreed that discussions for review of a Permanent Hazard Allowance for all Health Workers will commence as soon as possible after consultations by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment with all Stakeholders in the Health Sector.

“Based on the principles of ability to pay, this will cover all Health Workers in a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Meeting will be convened as soon as possible in that regard,” the Communique said.

Concerning the Payment of all owed arrears of the Consequential Adjustment of the National Minimum Wage to her members and implementation of such in States Tertiary Health Institutions,
it was noted that those were affected were the Youth Corps Members and House Officers who are regarded as ad hoc staff.

“For State Hospitals, the Federal Government can only be persuasive. It was recalled that NARD had been assigned the responsibility to submit a list from the defaulting hospitals to the Federal Ministry of Health for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning,” it stated.

The meeting also addressed the issue of domestication of the Residency Training Act by State Governments. It said: “Recognizing the Autonomy of States within the Federation, the meeting agreed that the issue would be tabled at the National Economic Council and National Council of Health to persuade the States to domesticate the Act.”

Concerning Health Workers in the Medical Centers attached to Universities, the meeting agreed that these workers had been tied with the ongoing strike by Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and negotiations concerning them would be on a different platform involving Federal Ministry of Education.

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The Minister said “In view of these Understandings, NARD will consult with her Executive Council within the next 24hrs with a view to calling off the strike by tomorrow, September 10, 2020.

“Nobody will be victimized for any activity connected with or for participating in the industrial action.”

Earlier during the meeting, the NARD led by Aliyu Sokomba, had tendered apologies to the government for allegedly misinforming the public when they stated that the government had been deceptive and had not done anything for the health workers contrary to the evidence on ground.

Sokomba while reacting to outcome of the meeting, said the leaders of NARD will convoke a meeting and consult their members to call off the strike.

Others, who graced attended the meeting include; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; Minister of State for Health, Olorunmibe Maomora; Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, the Chairman of the National Incomes and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta; Secretary General of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Ekpe Phillip among others.

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Akinola
Akinola
Akinola Olusegun is a blogger and publisher of this blog, money247.com.ng. You can also check out his other blogs : segtv.com.ng (videos & news), letgoonline.com.ng (e-commerce), letgoonline.com.ng/blog (news) among others. Follow him via any or all of his social media pages to get fresh posts update.
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