Striking Resident doctors may not receive their salaries for a while as the Federal Government has issued a ‘no work, no pay’ policy following their on-going strike.
This is contained in a letter written by the Director of Hospital Services, Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Dr Andrew Noah, on behalf of the Permanent Secretary, Mr Olufunso Adebiyi, dated Aug. 1 to the Accountant General of the Federation.
A copy of the letter which was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), is titled ‘Re: Incessant Strike Action by Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD): Implementation of ‘No Work, No Pay’ Policy of the Federal Government’. It has DHS/828/T1/410 as its serial number.
The body of the letter read: “NARD has in a letter Ref_. No. NARD/SG/2022-2023/050723/459; dated July 5, extended its expired ultimatum by another two weeks effective from Wednesday, July 5.
“Also at the expiration of the extended ultimatum on July 19, if all the demands are not met, NARD will not guarantee industrial harmony in the health Sector.
“On July 26, NARD embarked on an indefinite strike over their agitated issues despite concerted government interventions.”
The letter also itemised some of NARD’s key demands to be immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), immediate implementation of a minimum of 200 per cent increment in Consolidated Medical Salary Structure and the upward review of associated allowances.
Others are payment of outstanding arrears of consequential adjustment, hazard allowance and skipping allowance.
The letter said that various conciliatory meetings by the ministry of health, Ministry of labour and Employment, government stakeholders and the National Assembly proved abortive in getting NARD to call off the indefinite strike action.
“I am directed to bring to your notice the provisions of Circular No.58598/S.1/II/182 dates June 22, 2016, on ‘No Work, No Pay’ and request for the implementation of the circular to serve as a deterrent to other health workers.
“I am further directed to request your good office to stop the salaries of all striking resident doctors with effect from July 26, 2023,” the letter read.
Reacting to the letter, the President of NARD, Dr Innocent Orji, told NAN that the ‘no work, no pay’ policy would aggravate the issues and escalate the on-going strike by its members.
According to him, the Federal Government has aggravated the matter because FMOH has not been living up to their responsibility, but claim that because it does not have a minister, it cannot do much.
“Now for a ministry that has taken that position to now muster the capacity to be issuing letter to communicate their plans for punitive measures, our members are angry about it.
“We are going to meet this weekend and I can tell you from what we have heard from our members that there will likely be massive escalation by next week,” he added.
Speaking about the various conciliatory talks that the government and other stakeholders have engaged the association in, Orji said it is getting people tired.
He added that the Federal Government had not been in negotiations with the association since the strike commenced.
“We had talks before the strike started, we have said before that they do not need talks to pay MRTF 2023, it is in the budget and the funds are there.
“They do not need talks or meetings to release the circular on One-for-One policy for the replacement of exited clinical workers so that they can replace those who have left the system, our members are just working round the clock alone doing the work of so many people.
“If you tell me that for skipping arrears, for CONMESS review that demands negotiations fine, but for these other ones, nobody needs any special meeting to do that and that is the problem.
“Assuming they did two or three things of course doctors can now decide to consider coming back to work and give more time for discussions to resolve the other issues but that has not happened.
“A government that has made promises and decided to renege on those promises and on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) it signed with us and they are doing this, it will only aggravate the matter.
“We will have our meeting this weekend, whatever happens from next week let it be put on record that they caused it,” Orji said.
NAN reports that on July 29, NARD, in a communiqué issued after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting, said that the nationwide strike action embarked upon by its members may continue indefinitely.
It added that the strike would continue until reasonable progress is made by the government to address its demands as contained in the ultimatum issued to the federal government on July 5.