After several hours in a marathon meeting, the Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Action (MOA) with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), in a last ditch effort to avert the planned nationwide strike of resident doctors scheduled to commence Thursday, April l.
The agreement was signed between the Government and the leadership of NARD at the office of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, at the meeting which deliberated on the issues raised by the aggrieved doctors in their Notice of Trade Dispute including the non-payment of salaries of some house officers, non-recruitment of house officers, abolishment of the bench fees for doctors undergoing training in other hospitals, non-payment of National Minimum Wage and hazard allowances.
The development came amidst reports that NARD members had on Thursday morning commenced industrial action despite moves by the Federal Government to avert it.
NARD President, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, confirmed to Channels TV that the strike had commenced at 8 am on Thursday, just as the resident doctors had appealed to Nigerians for understanding.
“Nigerians must understand that we love them and the strike is not intended to hurt them but to challenge the Nigerian government @MBuhari @Fmohnigeria @LabourMinNG whose responsibilities amongst others is to care for her citizens and labour force to do the needful”, the union posted on its Twitter handle, @nard_nigeria, on Thursday morning.
However, briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting with the leadership of NARD, Ngige assured of implementation of agreements reach in the MOA.
“Twelve hours is a lot of time. Everybody will be working. Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) will be working, and hopefully by tomorrow, 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.”
Ngige said in labour parlance, what the government has done meant it had arrested the impending industrial dispute of the doctors and the issues in contention, being addressed.
“We are happy that you understand. So, I give you assurance that most of the things written here will be done. We will assist the Federal Ministry of Health (FMH), Finance Ministry and Office of Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to make sure that they keep to their own side of the bargain.
The MOA says that you will talk to your people and we hope that when you come to collect your own copy tomorrow, you can tell the nation that you people are not strike mongers and that you are happy with the decisions taken so far.”
In attendance at the meeting were, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi, his Labour and Employment counterpart, Peter Yerima Tarfa, representatives of the OAGF, MDCN and the National Salaries, Wages and Incomes Commission.
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