The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has ordered the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to withdraw its notice of strike with immediate effect.He made this known at a press conference after a meeting with the Presidential Committee on Salaries and some other bodies on Friday in Abuja.

Ngige revealed that NARD issued a 28-day ultimatum to the government, after which would be the commencement of another strike. He went further to say that this action was not in comportment with the International Labour standards on collective bargaining. He explained that the issues they were bringing up were ones rather divergent from the issues currently in negotiation— establishing a fresh hazard allowance for health workers; hence the directive to withdraw the notices.

However, the NARD President, Dr Okhuaihesuyi Uyilawa, has objected to this, saying that the association would stand firmly on its feet and not be intimidated by the threats of the government. In other words, he said, the association would not withdraw the notice.

Dr Uyilawa also said that the strike is not based just on the hazard allowance, but that the government has not attended to any of the union’s demands stated in the MoA, despite the ultimatum given sometime ago. He maintained that the union would not withdraw the strike notice, unless the government fulfills its promises.

Ngige’s withdrawal order was given in response to the new 4-week ultimatum given to FG in June to clear all hanging issues . Prior to that, the Resident Doctors had embarked on an industrial action on the 1st April. The action was suspended about 9 days later, following promises made by the FG and the agreement signed by both parties agreeing on a 13-point demand, including hazard allowance, made by the doctors.

On suspension in April, the doctors gave the government a 4-week ultimatum to meet the union’s demands, which the government failed to do. The union decided to extend the ultimatum by some weeks, but the government still did not meet up to expectations.

This fresh 4-week ultimatum was given in late June to FG and some state governments to address demands before July 26. States like Abia, Ekiti, Imo, Kano and Ondo were warned to pay all pending salaries before the deadline. The association has said that if its demands are not met before the ultimatum expires, a total, indefinite strike ensues.

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