The Federal Government of Nigeria has again met with striking doctors under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), with the meeting reaching a number of resolutions which included setting up a committee to resolve payment issues in 72 hours.
NARD had embarked on an indefinite industrial action last weeks over disagreements relating to their welfare.
The meeting was convened by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige on behalf of the federal government.
He said “a committee to smooth out the payment of Resident Doctors by removing the irregularities encountered in the process” was set up by the meeting.
A statement signed by the Deputy Director Press and Head Media Unit in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Mr Charles Akpan, said “the move is part of ongoing efforts to resolve the dispute between government and Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), which led to the ongoing industrial action by the Association”.
According to the statement, setting up of the Committee and its assignments is an addendum to the Memorandum of Action reached between the parties on March 31.
The meeting agreed to set up the committee after noting that the payment of the House Officers’ salaries experienced some irregularities as double payments were made to some officers in some centres while a few have not been paid as of date.
The five-man Committee was given 72 hours from Saturday, April 10 to produce a valid list of names of House Officers to the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) through the Federal Ministry of Health.
The committee members were drawn from the Federal Ministry of Health, Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN), IPPIS, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), NARD and Committee of Chief Medical Directors (CCMDs).
“Government hopes that with this and other understandings reached, NARD would give this conciliation process a chance for industrial peace by calling off the strike embarked on April 1 2021,″ Ngige said.
The Minister further disclosed that Government was in the process of working out a better hazard allowance arrangement for all health workers in Nigeria.
“In consonance with an agreement signed in July last year to review that allowance, the Presidential Committee on Salaries (PCS) had been on it all the while.
To this end, PCS would meet on Monday, April 12 2021 with National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC) to examine the issue and would meet on Wednesday, April 14 with all the health sector workers – Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) and its affiliate, NARD, and Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU) and its affiliates”, he said.
On salary shortfall from 2014 to 2016, the Minister stated that it was agreed that NARD and CCMDs should immediately submit a list of affected institutions and personnel strength for it to be captured in the 2021 Supplementary Budget, while the arrears would run from April 2019 to December 2019 as contained in Memorandum of Action 1 (MoA 1).
According to Ngige, “this meeting started on March 31 and produced the first Memorandum of Action, which formed the basis of our business today. Those we had given assignments reported back. We also went through the tabled issues again.”
Also speaking at the end of the meeting, President, NARD, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, said the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Association would relay the outcome of the meeting to their members “with the hope of calling off the strike tomorrow Saturday”.
Other issues examined at the meeting are abolishment of the bench fees, Residency training allowance, group life insurance payment, and payment of residents on GIFMIS platform.
The meeting also agreed that NARD would communicate their decision to the Minister for Labour and Employment before 12 noon on April 10 2021.
As at the time of filing this report, NARD is yet to call off the industrial action.
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