The health sector may soon heave a sign of relieve as striking resident doctors may suspend their today, Friday, if agreement reached between them and the Federal Government is anything to go by.and offset salary arrears of resident doctors, who went on strike this week.
An agreement signed by all the parties said the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) would present the outcome of the re-negotiated Memorandum of Terms of Settlement to an emergency meeting of its members , September 8, 2017, with a view to suspending the strike once there is evidence of payment of the mandate as presented to the meeting, to the affected Federal Tertiary Health Institutions.
It further said “No member of NARD will be victimised as a result of this strike if suspended, after the Emergency Meeting of Friday, September 8, 2017”.
Read the Agreement Below
A meeting was held on September 6, 2017, following the strike embarked upon by the members of the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) on September 4, 2017. The meeting considered the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement dated August 31, 2017 which was signed by the Parties at the end of the conciliation meeting held at the instance of the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to address the 6 – point issues of concern to the members of NARD.
In view of the ongoing strike by members of NARD, an emergency meeting was convened by the Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment to address areas of dissatisfaction in the Settlement by NARD. The meeting noted NARD’s Position that despite the signed Memorandum of Terms of Settlement, the industrial action by its members emanated from a distrust of Government commitment to execute its own end of the Terms of Settlement. The Honourable Minister of Labour and Employment expressed displeasure that NARD members embarked on strike inspite of the signed collectively agreed Terms of Settlement dated August 31, 2017, and conciliation in progress in line with the provisions of Section 5 of the Trade Disputes Act, CAP. T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004. The issues of concern to NARD were therefore re-addressed as follows:
1) Failure To Pay Our Salary Shortfall Of 2016 And January To May 2017
Acknowledging the need for the Resident Doctors to receive their full salaries, the meeting deliberated extensively on the accounting difficulties encountered in the disbursement of salaries to non – regular payrolls labeled ‘Non Regular Allowances’ as against regular payrolls covered by the IPPIS platform.
The meeting further noted that the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) did receive one Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) of the sum of N13.2Billion to address the shortfalls in Public Sector including payment of the salaries of affected doctors in Federal Tertiary Health Institutions (FTHI). After due considerations by the meeting especially of the document submitted by NARD on “Salary Shortfall”, it was agreed –
i. That the OAGF has to employ checks and balances in disbursing Government funds. Accordingly, though verifications had been done by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA), there was still need to carry out authentications. Payment would therefore be made directly to the affected FTHI for Doctors and Staff that have been authenticated, and additionally, a soft copy would be forwarded to the Parent Ministry (FMoH), Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, CMDs, NARD and NMA;
ii. That the FTHIs on list A of the document submitted by NARD that have been authenticated by OAGF were expected to receive payments on or before Friday, September 8, 2017 as OAGF tendered a mandate containing 8 FTHI and pledged to forward an additional list of the remaining FTHI to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for necessary action between September 7 – 8, 2017;
iii. That the 2nd batch (list B) Mandate will be treated as soon as their AIE is sent to OAGF since NARD claimed that PICA had verified the shortfalls.
2) Failure To Rectify The Salary Shortfall From August 2017
The meeting noted and agreed with NARD demand for a 100% payment of salaries to its members. However it was observed that the shortfalls were basically experienced by those not on the IPPIS platform termed “Non Regular Allowances/Payments”. The challenges on this issue were discussed extensively and it was noted that the OAGF was currently capturing the Paramilitary Staff on IPPIS Platform and would be ready to deal with members of NARD by first week of October precisely October 4, 2017. In this regard, it is expected that the 100% payment will be implemented as from October 2017, as September salaries were already at advanced stage of preparation. However, any shortfall that occurs will be treated together with that of August, 2017.
The role of the Cash Management Department and PICA in the payment of the Non Regular Allowances (Non IPPIS), and the determination to find a permanent solution to the issue of salary shortfalls was acknowledged. The meeting resolved that the Honourable Ministers of Labour and Employment, and Health together with the Budget Office of the Federation and one member each of NARD and NMA would discuss the matter with the Honourable Ministers of Finance (HMF), and Budget and Planning (HMBNP) as soon as Honourable Minister of Finance returns to the country.
NARD was also assured that notwithstanding IPPIS coming into existence in October, 2017, the arrears accumulated in salary shortfalls on the Non Regular Platform, would be paid based on the old payment regime and liquidated.
3) Failure To Circularize House Officers’ Entry Point
The meeting noted that since the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement of August 31, 2017 was executed, progress had been made by the Government. The FMoH and NSIWC had made a computation of the financial implications for the House Officers’ Pay amounting to approximately N422, 564,729.34. The end of October, 2017, was given as deadline to entirely solve the monetary problem of House Officers entry step by capturing it in the 2018 budget. The NSIWC promised to forward a memo to the Presidency following the receipt of a letter of demand from the FMoH and would issue the relevant circular immediately a favourable response is received by the NSIWC from the Presidency.
4) Failure To Correct The Stagnation Of Promotion Of Our Members And Properly Place Them On Their Appropriate Grade Level
After extensively discussing the issue by all parties, it was concluded that while the Appeal filed by the FMoH in the Appeal Court against the Judgment of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) on skipping is pending; skipping for doctors should however continue as currently applied for other health workers. Hospitals that are yet to implement skipping for doctors are to commence. Also, there should be no “same scale” promotion except at the terminal grade level and in accordance with the Public Service Rules. Payment for skipping shall stop if the Appeal Court invalidates the payments.
5) Failure To Enroll And Capture Our Members On The Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS
On this issue, the meeting concluded that item v of the Memorandum of Settlement dated August 31, 2017 should be adopted and implemented. Item v under reference provides as follows – “Based on the information given by the members of NARD, it was noted that only 18 Federal Tertiary Health Institutions had so far submitted their Nominal Roll. The meeting concluded that 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.” OAGF confirmed the receipt of submissions from additional 9 FTHIs as at September 6, 2017.
6) Failure To Budget, Deduct And Remit Both The Employer And Employees’ Contributions Our Pension To Our Retirement Savings Account Since 2013
The meeting admitted and considered a letter by the Federal Ministry of Finance Ref. No. OHMF/SPO/NARD/289/VOL.1 dated June 8, 2017 on the subject “Re-Stoppage of Budgetary Provision And Deduction at Source For the Contributory Pension Scheme For Resident Doctors” which reaffirmed the earlier position taken that Resident Doctors are entitled to the Contributory Pension Scheme. After due discussions, item vi of the Memorandum of Terms of Settlement of August 31, 2017 was re-affirmed and adopted for implementation. The item vi states that “…NARD members are on Pensionable appointment and as such the FMoH in conjunction with OAGF and Budget Office of the Federation (BOF) should 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.”
7) The Federal Government will appeal to State Governments and Organisations that owe salary shortfalls/emoluments to Health Workers to make genuine efforts to liquidate these arrears in the spirit of revamping the Health Care System in the country.
8) The meeting agreed that NARD National Officers are to present the outcome of the re-negotiated Memorandum of Terms of Settlement to an emergency meeting of its members by Friday September 8, 2017 with a view to suspending the strike once there is evidence of payment of the Mandate as presented to the meeting, to the affected Institutions.
9) No member of NARD will be victimised as a result of this strike if suspended, after the Emergency Meeting of Friday, September 8, 2017
10) This Conciliation Meeting is adjourned to reconvene on Thursday, November 2, 2017.