MEMBERS of Nigeria’s National Association of Residents Doctors (Nard) have commenced a nationwide strike following the failure of the government to meet their Covid-19 demands including the payment of a special hazard allowance and the provision of life insurance.
With the outbreak of the global pandemic, Nigerian medical practitioners raises serious concerns about the state of their security. Among their demands were that the federal government should provide them with special hazard and inducement allowances and group life insurance.
With the government failing to meet all their demands, Nard asked it members to down tools yesterday to the frustration of ministers. Labour minister Dr Chris Ngige, himself a medical doctor, said that the government had met six of their eight demands, so there was no justification for the strike.
Dr Ngige, reminded the doctors that under International Labour Organisation conventions, when issues are being conciliated, all parties are enjoined not to employ arm-twisting methods to intimidate or foist a state of helplessness on the other party, in this case, the Federal Ministry of Health. He said: “There is a pending case in the National Industrial Court of Nigeria instituted by two civil society groups against Nard, the minister of health, the attorney-general of the federation and the minister of labour and employment.”
Nard first embarked on an indefinite strike on the June 15 but suspended it June 22 due to the intervention of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum. They gave the government a four-week window to meet their demands on or before August 17 but yesterday, they decided to resume the strike, having reached the conclusion that government had failed to fulfil its promises.
Nard publicity secretary Dr Stanley Egbuogu, said: “Doctors in the Federal Capital Territory have complied fully because in most of the places we visited, we observed full compliance. We are also getting reports from different centres and by the end of today, we will now be able to assess how far we have gone with compliance but for now, the result has been good.
“None of our members in treatment and isolation centres for the management of Covid-19 patients is working. Only consultants and other doctors that are not our members are working.”
Dr Chidubem Osuagwu, the chairman of the Ebonyi State chapter of Nard, said the doctors At the Alex Ekwueme Federal Teaching Hospital in Abakaliki were protesting the non-implementation of the Covid-19 welfare package. He added: “The federal government did not respect the agreement we had we them. They were to pay for six months but they paid only April and May.
“The agreement was that they would pay 60% of basic salary to doctors working in any hospital treating Covid-19 while other health workers would get 40%. Also, there is an additional 20% to those treating Covid-19 patients.”
He added that the doctors also had issues with the residency training. Dr Osuagwu said: “They claimed that it was captured in the 2020 budget but up till now, there has been no implementation and the last report we got is that there was no provision for it.”