Resident doctors threaten strike over unresolved issues with FG, states

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has warned of an imminent nationwide industrial disharmony if the Federal Government does not meet its demands.

The association issued the warning in a letter submitted to the minister of health, Osagie Ehanire and signed by its president, Emeka Innocent Orji on Monday, January 9, 2023.

The association said it would kick-start processes that would lead to an industrial disharmony if lingering issues are not addressed before its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting scheduled for January 24 to 28, 2023.

The association had issued an ultimatum to the Federal Government six months ago over unresolved issues affecting its members. These include the irregularities in the new circular on 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, non-payment of the consequential adjustment of minimum wage to some of its members.

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Others are delay in the upward review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), salary arrears of 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.

“We sincerely appreciate the efforts of the government through its ministries, departments and agencies in resolving some of the issues raised. However, many of them remain largely unresolved and have now become a source of serious nationwide agitation threatening industrial peace and harmony in the health sector,” the letter read.

“Our January 2023 National Executive Council meeting has been scheduled to hold from January 24 to 28, 2023, and we can confirm very clear feelers that if these issues are not sorted out before that meeting, our members will likely give us mandate to immediately kick-start processes that will lead to a nationwide industrial disharmony in the health sector,” the letter added.

According to the association, the most notable issues are the 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.

“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 offices 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 said in its letter to the minister.