New Telegraph

FG, Resident Doctors resolve dispute

…as Ngige flays associations against reporting executives to NASS
…we had no other option says NMA

Regina Otokpa, Abuja

After hours of extensive deliberations, the Federal Government and the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), have resolved resolved all contending issues which have been lingering for a while.
At the end of a closed door meeting on Monday in Abuja, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, gave assurances that the safety and welfare of all health workers in the country would be adequately attended to by the  federal government.
While disclosing tthat the Federal Government has so far  spent N15.8 billion for hazard allowances in the federal teaching hospitals, federal medical centres as well as some other non COVID-19 hospitals where doctors have also been treating virus cases, Ngige announced the meeting  would reconvene on Thursday, to take stock of the implementation of the agreement reached.
In his words: “The Federal Government will continue to appreciate the untiring efforts  of all health workers. The President at every time, remembers you and thanks you for the immense sacrifice you make for the nation and firmly believes that nothing is  too much to do for you to show appreciation. Government will do more to protect the health of our people.
“The Federal Government  has cleared the  April /May special allowances which is no doubt a big feat, knowing that this is for special allowances only, and at a time government earning has fallen short of the expected earning, that the affected medical personnel will also draw their normal salaries and other allowances.”
Ngige, who acknowledged that the June allowances were still outstanding because the budget has been eaten into by developments not originally captured such as pay for house officers, interns, NYSC doctors as well as volunteers, however, assured the doctors that government was already liaising with the Presidential Taskforce  to sort it out especially for volunteers.
The meeting also agreed that  the 20% top-up for all  health personnel inside the COVID-19 wards and isolation centres of the hospitals should  be effected as quickly as possible, hence, a directive was given  to the  Ministry of Health and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to reconcile  all matters relating to this by Tuesday, August 4  to enable an urgent payment .
The minister said the Federal Government has paid all premiums for Group Life Insurance spanning  between  April 17, 2020 to  April 16, 2021 for all federal civil servants except those in the revenue generating  agencies such as Customs, FIRS, NNPC among others, who  can afford their own insurance.
Problems arising from the Consequential Adjustment of the Minimum Wage in the Health Ministry especially those  on GIFMIS,  non-regular staff such as interns and NYSC members would be resolved as soon as NARD submits the list of affected workers to the ministry.
The meeting also set up a committee to resolve the lingering problem between management of the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital and  NARD.
Earlier, the minister urged trade unions and associations to desist from the habit of reporting industrial disputes to the National Assembly, but follow due process in seeking redress for trade disputes which starts with the parent ministry, followed by the Ministry of Labour and Employment when its not resolved from whence it could move to the Arbitration Panel before heading to the Industrial Court or National Assembly.
The General Secretary of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) Dr. Phillips Ekpe while agreeing to what the minister said, stated that the association was left without any other option than to honour the meeting with the National Assembly leadership.
“It was due to frustration because the employer will not carry members of the association along in most of their programs. We don’t report to the National Assembly, they usually call us when the media write anything about our struggle.
”So, most times it’s frustration from the way the Ministry of Health handles our issues, yes I agreed we need to handle our matter in the house because both those at the helm of affairs in the ministry are our colleagues, so it doesn’t appear we are washing out dirty linens outside.”

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