Another nationwide strike planned by the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) has been averted.
This was sequel to the timely intervention of Federal Government’s team led by Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment and his counterpart, Isaac Adewole, Minister of Health and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) and other stakeholders.
Some of the issues raised by the resident doctors in a letter dated: 27th August, 2017, are: “Failure to pay our salary shortfall of 2016 and January to May 2017; Failure to rectify the salary shortfall from August 2017; Failure to circularize House Officers’ entry point; Failure to correct the stagnation of promotion of our members and properly place them on their appropriate grade level; Failure to enroll and capture our members on the Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS) as well as Failure to budget, deduct and remit both the employer and employees’ contributions our pension to our retirement savings account since 2013.”
To this end, the Association notified the Federal Government of the intention of its members to proceed on a total and indefinite strike with effect from 8.00 am on Monday, September 4, 2017.
However, after robust deliberation and settlement reached by the parties, NARD agreed to hold an emergency session before Monday, 4th September, 2017, for the presentation of this Memorandum to it National Executive Council (NEC) with a view to averting the scheduled strike.
The parties also resolved to adjourn the Conciliatory Meeting to reconvene on Thursday, 2nd November, 2017.
According to the communique issued at the end of the conciliatory meeting, the stakeholders noted that some Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FHTI) have paid a percentage of salaries to Resident Doctors and are consequently in arrears of salary payments to members of NARD and Honorary Consultants.
It was also noted that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) had started the process of paying the shortfall of salaries owed in batches. It was therefore concluded that the Accountant General of the Federation (AGF) should forward the list of the recipient FHTI to the Honourable Minister of Health to ensure that the released fund was used for its intended purpose. The payment for other FHTI not captured to be implemented before the end of October 2017.
On the need to rectify the salary shortfall from August 2017, the stakeholders resolved that the “Director Hospital Services is to address a circular/letter to the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) and state therein that the released funds should be used solely for salaries and shortfalls. The Federal Ministry of Finance should ensure that monthly salaries are paid in full.”
In reference to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached at the 7th Senate in 2014, and House of Representatives with the Speaker presiding in 2016, where Parties agreed to use the quantum of monies contained in CONHESS 9:4 for CONMESS 1:1, the parties “concluded that effect should be given to previous Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBAs) reached on this issue so that CONHESS 9:4 would be in parity with CONMESS 1:1. The Chairman NSIWC to get this circularized, after getting the quantum from FmoH. All matters on this issue should be finalised before the preparation of 2018 Budget is concluded.”
On the need to correct the stagnation of promotion of our members and properly place them on their appropriate grade level, the parties resolved that “issues of skipping and matters ancillary thereto were discussed.
“The meeting noted that the Federal Ministry of Health had appealed against the ruling of the National Industrial court of Nigeria (NICN) on skipping and that a date has been given by the Court of Appeal for Hearing in March, 2018. It was further noted that a major issue is the improper placements on appropriate Salary Grade Levels.
“It was concluded that a proper guideline should be provided by the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF) and that Item 4 of the MoU of December 16, 2013 should be adopted. The Item 4 states as follows:
“The FMoH, NSIWC, NMA should urgently review the NMA’s proposal on skipping of CONTISS 10/CONHESS10/COMESS 2 in the new Scheme of Service with a view to amending it to reflect the suspension of the circular on unauthorized skipping of equivalent of CONMESS 2 for Medical Doctors in the Public Service. The amended proposal shall be forwarded to the HCSF through the FMoH for an onward presentation to the forthcoming National Council on Establishment (NCE) on 24th January, 2014 in Ilorin.
In view of this earlier position, it was concluded that the Honourable Minister of Health (HMoH) should drive this issue and that no circular should be issued on the matter until it is concluded by the HMoH. In view of the expected meeting of the Council of Establishment, the end of October was given as the tentative time limit to conclude the assignment by the FMoH and Office of the HCSF. Hospitals that are yet to implement skipping for doctors are to commence and henceforth, promotions should be in accordance with the Public Service Rules.
On the enrollment and capturing of NARD on the IPPIS, the parties observed that only 18 Federal Tertiary Health Institutions had so far submitted their Nominal Roll. To this end, they unanimously resolved that “all NARD members should be on the IPPIS platform and that the CMDs as well as the MDs should be requested by the FMoH to submit their Nominal Roll to the Office of the Accountant General of The Federation (OAGF) and copy to the FMoH and FML&E on or before September 15, 2017. It was agreed that all Resident Doctors should be captured on IPPIS platform by the end of October 2017.”
Similarly, the parties who observed that NARD members are on pensionable appointment, urged Federal Ministry of Health, office of Accountant General of the Federation and Budget Office of the Federation to “take necessary steps to ensure that adequate budgetary allocations are made to cover the Pension requirements of NARD members.
“Furthermore, FMoH should issue a letter in that regard to the Head Civil Service of the Federation who would correspond with the Budget Office of the Federation for necessary action, as the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) had in a letter of February 12, 2015, Ref.PENCOM/INSP/C&E/CCPA/66/ 15/1167 to the Honourable Minister of Health affirmed that members of NARD are “Employees”. The letter went further to define an employee as any person employed in the service of the Federation, the FCT, a Government of a State of Nigeria, Local Government Council or private company or organization or firm,” the communiqué read.
The MoU was signed by Mike Ogirima, President, National Medical Association; Onyebuchi John, NARD President; Didi Jack, Permanent Secretary, office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation; Richard Egbule, Chairman, National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission; Stephen Ocheni, Issac Adewole, Minister of Health and Stephen Ocheni, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, respectively.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja