The ongoing indefinite strike by resident doctors which had paralyzed medical services at public hospitals, leaving thousands of patients unattended points to the dangers of persistent crisis of poor delayed compensation and the urgent need for social dialogue and collective bargaining process in the country’s public sector.
Vice President of Industriall Global Union, Comrade Issa Aremu made this observation in a statement in Kaduna at Easter.
The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), an association of Nigerian resident medics, last week gave the federal government an ultimatum to improve the wages and allowances of doctors to avert the indefinite strike.
Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment had stated that if Resident Doctors failed to resume work after FG’s interventions, “no work, no pay” would be invoked. He went further to urge federal hospitals to hire local doctors if the need arose.
But the frontline labour leader observed that neither indefinite strike on the part of striking doctors nor lock out by the government would solve the problem. He therefore canvassed for sustained negotiations and dialogue for what he called “mutually binding agreements by all parties in disputes”.
He said “working people including doctors work in order to earn money to pay for food, housing and school fees for children among others” . He however regretted that “increasingly in Nigeria, access to adequate and regular wages was no longer guaranteed contrary to the spirit and content of the Constitution and the country’s labour laws with adverse implication for service delivery and productivity”.
Doctors’ demands include settlement of salary arrears, review of hazard allowance to 50%, and payment of death-in-service insurance for all health workers who died from COVID-19 while on duty. Comrade Aremu who was also former two term Vice President of NLC described “delayed payment of salaries as “wage theft” and “economic crime” which would dampen the morale of any worker . He called for reallocation of financial resources away from political office holders into services and service providers while urging the doctors to suspend the industrial actions to allow for meaningful bargaining process and safe further loss of lives among the vulnerable poor Nigerians who patronize public hospitals.