We trust judicial system to deliver right judgement –NARD 

Lara Adejoro

The National Association of Resident Doctors says it trusts the judicial system to deliver the right judgment in the trade dispute between the Federal Government and the association at the National Industrial Court for arbitration.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, NARD’S president, Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi said though the hearing of the case has been adjourned to September 15, 2021, he believes everything will end well.

Recall that the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, had formally referred the trade dispute between the Federal Government and NARD to the National Industrial Court.

The NARD had on August 1, embarked on an indefinite strike action to press home its demands.

Some of the issues raised by NARD include the inconsistent payment of salaries, hazard allowances, non-payment of death benefits, and issues surrounding the registration of members on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.

The strike was also to demand the immediate withdrawal of the circular removing House Officers from the scheme of service and the hasty implementation of the circular by the Lagos State Government.

Okhuaihesuyi said, “When we went to the court, everything went well. We have trust in the judicial system and we will get it right. 

“We are still open for negotiations because we know the values for lives and we do value lives.” 

Also speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the Secretary-General of NARD, Dr. Jerry Isogun said the association followed due process before embarking on the strike.

Narrating the process followed, Isogun said, “On the 31st of January arising from our January National Executive Council meeting we gave two months ultimatum to the Federal and the State governments, to among other issues, review the current hazard allowance of N5,000 upward.

“On the 18th of March, we wrote a notice of strike when it was obvious that nothing was going to happen. 

“On the 31st of March, we had the 1st meeting with the Ministry of Labour where the first Memorandum of Action was signed. 

“On the 1st of April, we had an emergency NEC meeting and our members declared an indefinite strike due to lack of trust on government, having signed Memorandum of Understanding and Memorandum of Terms of Settlement in previous years. 

“On the 9th of April, we had another meeting with the Ministry of Labour where the second MOA was signed. 

“On the same day, the House Committee on Health met with us and pleaded that we suspend the strike in honour of the speaker. That he promised to address all our issues when he returns. 

“On the 10th of April, we had an emergency NEC meeting and we suspended the strike in honour of Mr. speaker and the MOA signed. In the communique submitted to the government after the meeting, we stated clearly that we extended the ultimatum by four weeks to allow the government to sort out all the issues as contained in our communique and the MOA signed. 

“On the 13th of April, the Hon speaker of the house of Representative visited our secretariat where we had extensive deliberations on all the issues and he promised to pursue the MOA to ensure speedy resolution of all the issues. In particular, he promised that the hazard allowance will be reviewed before the end of April and that Medical Residency Training Fund will be put in the supplementary budget. 

“The speaker ordered the Minister of finance to pay our members on Government Integrated Financial Management Information System the backlog of salary arrears for January, February, and March. 

“He also ordered the Head of Service to conclude the capturing and migration of these Doctors from the GIFMIS platform to prevent accumulation of unpaid salaries. 

“The four weeks elapsed by 10th of May. Nothing was done. We extended the ultimatum again till our Ordinary General Meeting in Awka on the 29th of May because of the role the Hon speaker played. 

“From the OGM, we extended the ultimatum again by another two weeks to allow the HoS to complete the process of capturing and migration of our members to the Integrated Personnel and Payroll Information System platform. 

“The two weeks elapsed by the 12th of June, yet they were not migrated. At this time they were not paid April and May salaries. 

“We made several efforts to see the Head of Service to sort things out with her but to no avail. 

“On the 23rd of June, we gave another notice of four weeks for resumption of the suspended strike if the lingering issues are not resolved. 

“When we didn’t hear anything from the government and our statutory NEC meeting was fast approaching, we made a courtesy visit to the Minister of Labour on the 22nd to report to him that the agreement reached with him as contained in the MOA has not been fulfilled. 

“Yet, nothing was done until the NEC meeting held in Umuahia between 26th and 31st of July 2021. 

“During the NEC, members unanimously voted to resume the suspended total and indefinite strike starting from 2nd of August 2021, due to failure of government to honour the agreement signed with them,” he noted.

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