AS Health Authorities and the striking doctors continue to bicker, an appeal has gone to the striking Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to obey the ruling of the National Industrial Court (NIC) ordering its members to return to work and negotiate outstanding issues of disputes through social dialogue with the relevant health authorities.
A statement by Dr Lawal Moshood, Technical Adviser to the Director General/Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS), Comrade Issa Aremu, quoted Comrade Aremu to have made the appeal weekend in Ilorin at the sideline of the monthly “Keep-Fit-for-Work” walk out by the management and staff of the Institute.
Resident doctors across public health facilities in Nigeria have been on strike since August 2, 2021 citing several reasons, which included delays in the payment of salaries and allowances and the payment of COVID-19 treatment allowances in the absence of death-in-service insurance.
The strike, which coincided with a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country had worsened the nation’s health related deaths and complications.
Comrade Aremu described the order of the National Industrial Court as “a win-win ruling” which he said gave both the health authorities and the striking doctors “an ample opportunity” to suspend all forms of hostilities and maintain the status quo ante. He therefore urged NARD to return to the negotiation table and ensure an agreement “that is binding on all parties”.
“Doctors have the right to appeal, even go as far as the Supreme Court, but in the world of work, court judgements are zero-sum game with winners and losers and attendant death toll with respect to the present strikes. Both the doctors and health authorities should strive “not for court judgements” but for “Industrial justice”, which can only come through negotiations and compromises at negotiation tables,” Aremu said.
The Director General said it was time all stakeholders took advantage of the labour education services at MINILS, adding that the current doctors’ strike “was preventable, and avoidable ” if there was sufficient knowledge about industrial relations by all the parties, with respect to sanctity of collective agreements, social dialogue and compromises.
In continuation of the hearing on the case brought against the doctors by the federal government on Friday, Justice Bashar Alkali of the NIC ruled in favour of the government and ordered the striking doctors to resume work.
In a related development, Comrade Aremu had urged employers of labour and organised unions to take advantage of dispute resolution mechanism for harmonious and healthy working relationship. He spoke at the University of Ibadan at an interactive session with participants at a workshop by MINILS on the theme: “Sustainable Industrial Harmony and Productivity”.