We Did Everything Possible To Stop Doctors’ Strike- Ngige
Labour and Employment Minister, Dr Chris Ngige has disclosed that they did everything within their power to stop the nationwide strike of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
Ngige pointed out that the Federal Government initially paid doctors and other health workers a generous special COVID hazard allowance of N32 billion for three months, and the various states were directed to pay the amount they could handle.
Deputy Director Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, Charles Akpan, issued a statement where the impact of the nationwide strike was explained.
The statement read: “In September 2020, they put a notice of strike, asking for Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) by which each of them will get N542, 000 to cover cost of books and journals for that particular examination,transportation and lodging for three days.
“Luckily, a supplementary budget was being put together and it was included and was paid to them. They called off the strike. By March this year, they listed other things again.
Before we could say Jack Robinson, they went on strike on April 1. I thought it was April fool until April 2 when we didn’t see them at work. I told them that they didn’t give the mandatory 21 days’ notice to their employers who have written to me to complain.
“However, we returned to the table. Government pledged that the 2021 Residency Training Fund will be captured in the supplementary budget. This has been done and payment ready.
“FG also approved N11.3B for Group Life Insurance in 2020 and renewed in 2021. Government also held a series of conjoint NMA-JOHESU meeting on hazard allowance until the two disagreed and now asked for separate negotiations.
“Every other issues bordering on what the states have failed to do with doctors is where our hands are tied, but Federal Government agreed to speak to the Governor’s Forum.
“The arrears of consequential adjustment to the minimum wage cut across sectors. Anyway, N160 billion earmarked for it has been exhausted and the next thing to do is to push for more. But really, some hospitals have gotten. We also abolished bench fees for Residency Training for those doing specialty. At this, the doctors left the negotiation happy.”