The doctors have vowed to continue their strike on the basis of an appeal and motion for stay of execution of the court ruling directing them to resume work. The NARD doctors should not be allowed to be defeated alone. With the continued unity of the doctors, and solidarity from other unions, nationally and internationally, the doctors could succeed in salvaging the collapsed public health sector.

In this circumstances, JOHESU should not have postponed their strike. JOHESU would have been stronger had it gone ahead with the planned strike on Friday 17th September and would have also strengthened NARD.

This is almost a year since the JOHESU’s one week strike was suspended in September last year.  Since then, very few meetings have been held with the Government and almost no progress has been made with negotiations and the unions’ demands. JOHESU appears to be wanting to let the doctors end their strike until they return to strike action.

Though a national action would be preferable, where this is frustrated for any reason, we suggest that individual JOHESU branches consider strike action in advance of any national action, as is the case with members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital (UITH). This Chapter, on 25th August declared an indefinite strike over non-payment of promotion and skipping allowances. This will provide basic solidarity with the striking doctors and put pressure on the JOHESU leadership to reconsider their decision to postpone their national strike.

Workers’ confidence in the NLC and TUC would have been strengthened where the two centres considered it appropriate to take solidarity action and/or issue a solidarity statement in support of the doctors’ strike, which started on 2nd August, 2021.

The doctors were ready to call off their strike if the Federal Government was prepared to address the lapsed deadlines in the existing agreements.

The Federal Government admits that the deadlines for implementation of the agreed terms have not been observed. Thus, it prepared what it calls an “Addendum” with new timelines covering only a few previously agreed issues. The Federal Government thus seeks to unilaterally impose new terms, which would mean absolving government from its obligations to pay the doctors’ earned but unpaid entitlements.

The timelines for implementation of agreed terms in the Memorandum of Action (MOA) dated 31/3/2021 and its Addendum dated 8/4/2021 and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dated 20/8/2021, but signed on 21/8/2021, have lapsed as stated below:

a.         On the Issue of Payment of arrears of salaries of Resident Doctors on Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) from May 2021 till date as well as arrears of salaries of LOCUM Doctors.

By Clause 2(viii) of the MOU dated 20/8/2021, the Resident Doctors on GIFMIS platform should have been enrolled “immediately” having been granted waivers by the Office of Head of Civil Service of the Federation (OHCSF). Also, the arrears of salaries of Resident Doctors on GIFMIS platform were to be paid starting from 31/8/2021. Similarly, arrears of salaries of LOCUM Doctors were to be paid while they continue to earn salaries as and when due. Clause 6 of the MOA has similar provisions as the MOU. The timelines under the MOA lapsed on 31/5/2021. LOCUM doctors are doctors who were made to sign monthly contracts of employment. The existing agreements had directed that they should be given permanent employment.  

b.         Payment of Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF).

Under Clause 2(ii) of the MOU, this should have been paid within one week from 21/8/2021, when the MoU was signed. This means that the timeline on this item lapsed on 28/8/2021.  The money for payment of MRTF is officially acknowledged to be available at the IPPIS. The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) claimed it had sent the verified list of beneficiaries to the IPPIS for payment. But it has not been paid, only because there is no formal written instruction to pay. In other words, the doctors are being deliberately denied payment by government.

c.     Payment of withheld August 2021 salaries

Clause 4 of the MOU dated 20/8/2021 is a “no victimization” Clause. But August salaries have been withheld, contrary to the MoU, which provides against victimization for participation in the strike.

In the circumstances of the lapsed deadlines in the existing agreements, the doctors are demanding that:

i.          Arrears of salaries of Resident Doctors on GIFMIS platforms from May 2021 till date, as well as the arrears of salaries of LOCUM Doctors be paid within 72 hours.

ii.         The Medical Residency Training Fund be paid within 72 hours.

iii.        The withheld August 2021 salaries of the striking doctors be paid based on the “no victimization” Clause in the MOU.

iv.        The earned but unpaid salaries of the 114 House Officers be paid based on clause 2(i) of the MOU.

v.         All affected resident doctors on GIFMIS be migrated into Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) as per clause 2 (vi) of the MOU. Only the government has the responsibility of migrating the affected doctors. It is merely an administrative task.

vi.        All arrears of salary shortfalls of affected doctors for the year 2014, 2015 & 2016 be paid, based on clause 2(vi) of MOU.

vii.       The ‘death in service benefits’ be paid to the families of deceased doctors who died  in the course of duty, due to COVID-19 pandemic complications, while striving to save the lives of patients.

All the demands of the doctors are demands arising from unimplemented collective agreements. In the interest of salvaging the healthcare system for the benefit of the masses who lack the means to travel to foreign countries for medical care, we call on the masses of Nigeria, their organisations, unions and rights organisations to support the striking doctors.  We call on the NLC and the TUC to, at least, issue messages of support for the striking doctors who are fighting to protect our public health service.  We call on JOHESU to reconsider its decision to postpone strike action for another two weeks.

Victory to the strike by the doctors of NARD!

JOHESU to proceed with its promised strike!

Support and solidarity from the labour movement!

United strike action will improve health care for all of us!

Biodun Olamosu, National Secretary, Socialist Labour


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