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Resident doctors threaten to embark on strike in two weeks

BY Ayodele Oluwafemi

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The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has threatened to embark on strike if the federal government fails to meet its demands within two weeks.

NARD issued the ultimatum at the end of its national executive council (NEC) meeting on Saturday at Abeokuta, Ogun state capital.

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

The national executive council of the association said the federal government has refused to negotiate with the association or take tangible steps on the “upward review” of the consolidated medical salary structure (CONMESS).

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The association accused the federal government of refusing to pay the salary arrears of 2014, 2015 and 2016 to resident doctors.

The resident doctors also condemned the bill seeking to mandate medical and dental practitioners to practice for five years before relocating abroad.

“NEC observed that despite several engagements by NARD with the government on the need to upwardly review the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS) which was last reviewed over ten years ago, Government has neither called NARD to the negotiation table nor taken any tangible step in addressing the issue,” the communiqué reads.

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“This is against the background of the dwindling economic situation in the country, the serial abysmal decline in the value of the naira, the imminent removal of fuel subsidy, and the
consequent damaging effect on the cost of living in the country.

“NEC recalled that there have been previous ultimatums issued to the government by NARD on account of this problem of the review of the CONMESS salary structure.

“NEC also reiterated that the previous collective bargaining agreement (CBA) 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.

“NEC demands an immediate increment in the CONMESS salary structure to the tune
of 200% of the current gross salary of doctors in addition to the new allowances
included in the letter written by NARD to the honourable minister of health on the 7th of July 2022 for the review of CONMESS.

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“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% budgetary allocation to health subsequently.

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

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