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Why resident doctors threaten strike

The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors has said it may not guarantee industrial harmony in the health sector if the Federal Government fails to resolve their demands by May 13, 2023.

The resident doctors gave the ultimatum on Saturday at the end of their Extraordinary National Executive Council meeting held in Abeokuta, Ogun state.

The meeting held from Thursday, April 27 to Saturday, April 29, 2023, to discuss the issues affecting their welfare.

In a communique signed the association’s President, Dr Emeka Orji; Secretary-General, Dr Chikezie Kelechi; and the Publicity & Social Secretary, Dr Dr Umar Musa, the doctors noted that there have been previous ultimatums issued to the government by NARD on the review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure .

The NEC said despite several engagements by NARD with the government on the need to upwardly review their salary, the government has not taken any tangible step in addressing the issue.

It said the previous collective bargaining agreement on
CONMESS stated clearly that the salary structure would be due for review after five years, but this has not been done since the implementation in 2014, though the approval was given in 2009.

It noted that many state governors are yet to implement the
appropriate CONMESS structure, domesticate the Medical Residency Training Act or improve on the hazard allowance paid to our colleagues and other health workers while owing a backlog of salary arrears to our members.

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The doctors are demanding an immediate increment in the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure to the tune of 200 per cent of the current gross salary of doctors in addition to the new allowances included in the letter written by the association to the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire on July 7, 2022, on the review of CONMESS.

The Council also demands the immediate withdrawal and jettisoning of the bill seeking to compel medical and dental graduates to render five-year compulsory services within Nigeria before being granted full licence to practise.

“NEC demands immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund in line with the agreements reached at the stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Federal Ministry of Health at the Honourable Minister of State for Health’s conference room. This should be done without further delay.

“NEC demands the commencement of payment of all salary arrears owed to our members including 2014, 2015, and 2016 salary arrears as well as areas of the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage. NEC demands immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and complete abolishment of bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors who leave the system.

“NEC demands immediate infrastructural development in our various hospitals without further delay and insists on at least 15 per cent budgetary allocation to health subsequently,” the communique read in part.

The Council also demands the immediate implementation of CONMESS, domestication of MRTA, and review of hazard allowance by all the state governments as well as Private Tertiary Health Institutions where any form of Residency Training is done.

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“NEC demands immediate commencement of payment of all salary arrears owed to our members by the various state Governments, notorious amongst which is the Abia State government.

“NEC resolved to issue the government a two-week ultimatum beginning today, April 29, 2023, to resolve all these demands, following the expiration of which on May 13, 2023, we may not be able to guarantee industrial harmony in the sector nationwide,” it said.

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