Fresh strike looms as Nigerian doctors issue two weeks ultimatum

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The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has issued a two-week ultimatum to the Nigerian government to commence the implementation of all pending agreements or face industrial disharmony.

The development was disclosed in a communique issued at the end of its Wednesday Extraordinary National Executive Council Meeting.

According to the communique signed by the President of NARD, Emeka Orji, the two-week ultimatum, which ends on 19 July, will give the government adequate time to begin implementation of the resolutions of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) previously agreed on.

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It stated that should the government fail to meet its demands by then, its members may embark on a nationwide strike.

The communique reads in part: ”NEC observed with disappointment that it is now seven weeks since the end of the five-day warning strike action embarked upon by the association to press home her demands and that the resolutions of the conciliatory meeting chaired by the then Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment were yet to be implemented, seven weeks after, despite the set timelines for their implementation.”

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“For emphasis, at the expiration of this further extended ultimatum, if all these demands are not met, we cannot guarantee industrial harmony in the health sector nationwide.”

Recall that the doctors had on May 17, 2023, embarked on a five-day warning strike following the failure of the Nigerian government to meet its demands.

The association had in January issued an ultimatum to the government to resolve issues affecting its members, including the immediate implementation and payment of the new hazard allowance and arrears.

The doctors, however, commenced the strike due to the government’s reported failure to meet their demands.

The union suspended the strike after signing an MoU with the federal government.

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The doctors, among other grievances, are demanding the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), tangible steps on the “upward review” of the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS), and payment of all salary arrears owed its members since 2015.

The union also wants immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and abolishment of the bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors and nurses who leave the system.

They also want the immediate review of hazard allowance by all state governments and private tertiary health institutions where residency training is done.

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