Doctors may suspend strike Monday, as govt raises negotiation team

THERE are indications that the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) may suspend its six-day old industrial action after the emergency meeting of the executive members of all chapters in Abuja Monday.
NARD President, Dr. Jubril Abdulahi, said on Sunday that the suspension of the industrial action would depend on the opinion of union members at the meeting today. He added: “The agreement with the government is that payment should be between now and October 11, 2013.
“So it means that the option we are left with is to agree and suspend the strike and wait for the government to pay by October 11 or continue with the strike and wait for them to pay. The problem is that of government bureaucracy is so annoying.”
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has constituted a team to negotiate the contentious issues tabled before the government, which has also already met with the union. The negotiation with NARD was at the instance of the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chukwuemeka Wogu, and reportedly made inroads into some of the major disagreements.
Participants at the meeting, which had representatives of both NARD and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), included the Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chuckwu, Chairman of National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Richard Ebule, and the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health.
According to a resolution at the end of the meeting, the resident doctors would retain the IPPIS programme but the problems that members of NARD identified in the programme should be addressed and resolved. Also, a committee to be chaired by the Minister of Health was put in place to address the challenges on the implementation of IPPIS.
Other members include the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Health and Labour, the Accountant General of the Federation, Chairman, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, Director General, Budget Office, Director of Finance and Accounts/IPPIS Coordinator, NMA and NARD representatives.
Resolutions at the meeting were jointly signed by the National President of NARD, Dr. Jubril Abdullahi, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Sani Bala, and Mrs. Chinedu Dike of the Ministry of Labour and Productivity.
It adopted the funding of resident doctors’ local and overseas trainings as reached at government’s meeting with the NMA and NARD on September 9 and 10, 2013. It also resolved that Chief Medical Directors (CDMs) should come up with the list of resident doctors and the arrears owed each of them for necessary action by the Minister of Health within four weeks.
Also agreed was that the Owerri chapter of NARD, Federal Medical Centre, should suspend its ongoing month-old strike, while appealing with the Minister of Health over the non-compliance with Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
On the failure of Enugu State Government to implement the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) for the Enugu State University Teaching Hospital ARD, the meeting agreed that NARD should step down its ultimatum to the state government and subsequently write to inform it of issues of concern to its members in the spirit of social dialogue.