The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has threatened to embark on a nationwide strike should the federal government fails meet its demands.
The association in a letter to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire on Monday, and signed by its president, Dr Emeka Innocent Orji, said processes for the strike would commence if the issues are not addressed before its first 2023 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting slated for January 24th to 28th.
The letter read in part, “Sir, our January 2023 National Executive Council meeting has been scheduled for January 24th to 28th, 2023, and we can confirm very clearly feelers that if these issues are not sorted out before that meeting, our members will likely give us a mandate to immediately kick-start processes that will lead to a nationwide industrial disharmony in the health sector.”
NARD had earlier issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government six months ago on account of lingering unresolved issues affecting its members, including the irregularities in the new circular on an upward review of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), outstanding payment of the arrears of the new hazard allowance, non-payment of the skipping arrears for 2014, 2015 and 2016, and non-payment of the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage to some of its members.
Other issues in contention include the delay in the upward review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure(CONMESS), salary arrears of its members in state tertiary health institutions running into several months, including Abia, Imo, Ondo, Ekiti and Gombe States, and non-domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA) in most states across the federation.
While lauding the efforts of government through its ministries, departments and agencies in resolving some of the issues raised, the association, however, said many of them remain largely unresolved and have now become sources of serious nationwide agitation threatening industrial peace and harmony in the health sector.
NARD said the major ones amongst them are; “Omitted 2020 MRTF payment, irregularities in the new MRTF circular inconsistent with the Medical Residency Training Act, existing collective bargaining agreements and current economic realities and review of CONMESS salary structure.”
The association said, “Sir, we know how critical this period is and the chaos that will ensue if the government does not take steps to prevent this from happening, and so we humbly implore you to use your good office to resolve these issues before our January NEC meeting. Sir, we trust in your fatherly disposition and believe that you will come to our aid and save this nation from this imminent industrial disharmony. ”
NARD also copied the letter to the Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary to the Government of Federation, Minister of Labour and Finance respectively, as well as the Chairman of the Nigerian Governor’s Forum (NGF), among others.