Court injunction against strike actions still legal, Ngige warns doctors
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige has warned striking doctors not to forget that the court injunction against further strike actions by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) was still legal.
He, therefore, called on the resident doctors to end their ongoing strike, which started on Monday and embrace dialogue.
The resident doctors embarked on a nationwide strike on Monday over claims that the Federal Government had failed to meet their eight demands bothering on a pay rise, adequate facilities, and better welfare packages.
But in a statement on Monday, Ngige faulted the claim and said that the government had fulfilled six of the demands.
He said, “Recall that most of the issues listed in the demands are issues that have been under conciliation since May 2020 that resulted in their strike in June 2019.
“The NARD leadership in three conciliatory meetings with the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) leadership in attendance can attest that out of the eight (8) demands listed after their Bauchi NEC meeting, the Federal Government via the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (FMoFB&NP) has already addressed about six of the demands comprehensively and satisfactorily.
“Even with the lean resources available due to the COVID-19 effect on oil output and price resulting in low revenue, the Federal Government has addressed the COVID-19 Special Hazard and Inducement Allowances for Medical and Health Workers to the extent that as of today, N20 billion has been expended by the FMoH and FMoF&NP on this allowance for April, May, and June 2020 with very little grey areas of outstanding payments to some Health Workers for June 2020.”
Speaking further, he said that “the issue of Group Life Insurance for medical and health workers were also dealt with fully with the Office of the Head of Service passing the records to both NARD and FMoH, to pass on to their medical doctors and other health workers to make appropriate claims when necessary, with the details of the 13 Leading Insurance companies and brokers, an exercise that cost the Federal Government N9.3 billion as a premium to run from the COVID-19 period of March 2020 to March 2021.”
According to the minister, the life insurance covers both Health professionals and workers, and all federal civil servants and public servants in federal organisations.
Ngige also said that the Federal Government appropriated the sum of N4 billion from the Special Intervention COVID-19 N500 billion 2020 Appropriation, for funding of Medical Residency Training and with intent to do the same in the ongoing 2021 Budget to be submitted to NASS for consideration. He added that the N4 billion has been processed for payment.
“Other issues like the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital right between NARD and the authorities were addressed while old issues not related to the COVID-19 period and issues of State Governments not addressing the Consequential Minimum Wage Adjustments, and low patronage of Residency programme are work in progress,” he added.
On the court injunction against their strike action, the minister warned that the doctors should not throw caution to the wind by disregarding the case before the National Industrial Court.
He said that the “interlocutory injunction against further strike actions by NARD, which was gotten by the Citizens Advocacy for Social Rights (CASER) and Association of Women in Trading and Agriculture (AWITA) is still valid” adding that the union should respect Nigeria’s laws and end the ongoing strike.
The minister, however, said that Wednesday, September 9, had been fixed to reconvene the ongoing conciliation meeting between NARD, the Federal Ministry of Health, and the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning.