Striking doctors, Reps fail to reach agreement, resume talks today
• Sheathe sword, FG begs aggrieved health workers
• Blames past govts for current labour woes
The end could be in sight, nine days after commencement of the strike by resident doctors, following intervention of the House of Representatives, led by the chairman, House Committee on Health, Dr. Tanko Sununu.
Sununu is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist and a former National Secretary/Secretary General, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
President, Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, told The Guardian, yesterday: “At last, we were invited yesterday for a meeting by the House of Representatives. We met with the House of Reps members’ team; Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olorunnimbe Mamora; Director of Hospital Services, Dr. Adebiyi Adegbite; Director General of Budget Office, Ben Akabueze; Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) Director, Ben Isika; and Chairman, Committee of Chief Medical Directors, Jaf Momoh, of the National Hospital Abuja. Ten other Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) were there, including that of University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, Maiduguri, Gombe, Jalingo, and Gwagwalada.
“However, we did not reach any agreement. We shall continue with the meeting tomorrow by 11:00 a.m. I am sure that immediately they meet our demands, we would not have any reason not to call off the strike.”
NARD began the week-long action, last Monday, over unpaid benefits to families of members that lost their lives to the COVID-19 pandemic and hazard allowances, improved conditions, and failure to domesticate Medical Residency Training (MRT) Act 2017 in states, among others.
This came as Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, appealed to the resident doctors to sheathe their swords and return to negotiations.
He made the appeal in Abuja, yesterday, during a three-day workshop on Advocacy and Communication for Women’s Cooperatives and Economic Empowerment Collectives.
The workshop was organised by Development Research and Project Centre (DRPC) under the Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED) project funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS).
He said: “Strike is not war but it is meant to instigate dialogue. The Ministry of Labour is the reconciler and we always intervene and call for the suspension of such strike because what you are instigating has already been done. In the Ministry of Labour, we are peacemakers; we are not the ones causing the strike but we are conciliators.”
Keyamo noted: “Many of these labour agreements were inherited by us from past government. Many governments entered into agreements they knew were not workable and they couldn’t keep, just to get out of their present situation. So, they acted in bad faith.”
He promised that government would live up to its responsibility. According to him if government gets into an agreement, it is the responsibility of government to also respect such agreement
Director General of MINILS, Issa Aremu, called for urgent reform of industrial relationships in the health sector to prevent further strikes and attendant consequences.
He also cautioned workers against unnecessary strikes saying: “Indiscriminate industrial action amounts to willful industrial suicide. Strike is the temporary stoppage of work to express grievance; a strike is not a war.”
He, therefore, called on the resident doctors and all parties to return to negotiations.
Speaking on the need for the workshop, Aremu said it is important to empower women economically, so that when they are politically empowered, they would be able to remain in power and create change.
He stressed that it is impossible to sustain political power without economic power because both are needed for Nigerian women to succeed.
National Coordinator of DRPC, Yahaya Hashim, observed that working with women collectives is key to national growth and development; it is also central to their participation in all sectors of the economy.
While calling for more support and sponsorship, Hashim assured that the centre would continue to support and empower women groups economically and hope to make the workshop a yearly event.
When The Guardian visited the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) Surgical Emergency unit, nurses and doctors were seen attending to a patient on visitors’ chair. Nurses in surgical emergency were also attending to emergencies.
A patient, who preferred anonymity, told The Guardian: “We are paying heavily for them to attend to us. Those of us who were rushed here have been incurring unusual expenses.”
A nurse explained: “Consultants are on ground doing ward rounds, attending to patients. Nurses are also on ground. We discharged those who are okay and we are only attending to patients that were already on admission.”
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