UPDATED: Resident doctors to suspend strike Friday

The four day nationwide industrial action embarked on by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) finally agreed to suspend the strike on Friday, after receipt of the payment of salaries shortfall worth N13.4 billion.

The resolution was reached after over 14 hours of negotiation between the Federal Government’s negotiation team with the Resident Doctors.

The communiqué which was amended six times with the aid of torch, was eventually adopted and signed by the parties at about 2:57am on Thursday morning,

Some of the aggrieved resident doctors who were mostly in their mid-40s demonstrated youth exhuberance during the negotiation, passed uncomplimentary comments against the Ministers and media practitioners on their plights.

Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment who chaired the conciliatory meeting, noted that indefinite strike unsettled government’s negotiation team.

He however noted that the parties resolved to review NARD’s position because their NEC-in-session did not believed in the terms of settlement bargained with government agencies.

Hence, in consonance with ILO convention either of the parties who agreed on CBA could engage in social dialogue, with the view to clear grey areas.

They also agreed that “NARD national officers should present the outcome of the renegotiated memorandum of terms of settlement to an emergency meeting of its members by Friday, September 8, 2017 with a view to suepnding the strike once there is an evidence of payment of the mandate presented to the meeting to the affected institutions.”

The parties also agreed that NARD members are on pensionable appointment and as such the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with Office of Accountant General of the Federation and Budget Office of the Federation should take necessary steps to ensure that adequate budgetary allocations are made to cover the pension requirements of NARD members.

Likewise, the parties concluded that NARD members should be on the IPPIS platform and that the CMDs as well as the MDs should be requested by FMoH to submit their nominal roll to the OAGF and copy FMoH and Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment on or before September 15, 2017. It was agreed that all resident doctors should be captured on IPPIS platform by the end of October 2017.

The payment is to be made to their respective health institutions, after verification of the affected doctors.

They also reached accord that all the federal health institutions already verified should be paid on or before 8th September, 2017 and subsequently pay others after following due process.

Prior to the final resolution of the lingering industrial declared by the Association, some of the aggrieved doctors had threatened physical combat against their leadership if they concede to signing the initial agreement with the Federal Government’s Negotiation team.

Following prolonged negotiation which remained inconclusive as at 12:20am on Thursday, the parties unanimously resolved that the nationwide industrial action should be suspended as soon as the payment alert is received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday as promised by the Federal Government’s team led by Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment.

The doctors who pulled out of the closed door session at about 10:35pm to brief their contemporaries on government’s hard stance, warned against unpatriotic and anti-union action that may degenerate to internal crisis.

One of them who traveled from Borno State, noted that the medical personnel and facilities of various overseas hospitals where most of the public office holders receive treatment were functional and effectively managed by their respective governments.

Another source privy to the negotiation, hinted that there was no payment made by the apex bank on the salary arrears as contained in the six-point demand tabled by the resident doctors.

Following the unpleasant responses from majority of the resident doctors in attendance, the leadership of NARD returned to the negotiation table at about 10:52pmto brief the Federal Government’s team on the Association’s position.

However, some members of the Federal Government’s negotiation team from the office of the Accountant General of the Federation who left the meeting was summoned back by the Minister of Labour and Employment.

Ngige who chaired the meeting, had during the engagement pleaded with the resident doctors to make sacrifice in the interest of the country.

While the Minister queried the rationale behind the call for defer the negotiation to next week Wednesday or Thursday, the resident doctors offered to give Federal Government till Saturday to pay the salary arrears while the strike continues.

One of them who came out of the closed door meeting threatened that the Association “will impeach the President.”

“Definitely if there’s no alert there’s no need to call people, because we will automatically resume (strike),” one of the Resident Doctors said, though to the displeasure of others.

However, all entreaties to pacify the resident doctors to suspend the strike during the meeting fell into deaf ears, as the meeting ended up in deadlock.

At about 11:50pm, the communique typed by the Secretary and presented to the parties was rejected due to some misgivings observed in the purported agreement titled in favour of Federal Government.

At exactly 12:31am, the Secretary who typed the third drafted communiqué with the aid of torch, came out of her office at 1:34am with the fourth amended communiqué for further adjustment of some clauses after both parties perused through, again was amended and finally adopted at 2:57am.

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