The National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has suspended its nationwide strike after eight weeks away from work, a development that has shaken the country’s health sector.
As gathered, the doctors decision followed a meeting yesterday where majority of the association members were said to have voted in favor of resuming back to their duty posts. As learnt, 56 members voted for the suspension of the industrial action, against 28 who wanted the strike to continue.
The NARD President, Dr Godiya Ishaya, who confirmed the suspension on Monday while briefing reporters in Abuja, said that the doctors have been directed to resume work on Wednesday, saying their resumption for six weeks would ensure the Federal Government get enough time to implement its demands.
Ishaya said that the association reviewed its position due to the commitment the government was showing in implementing the health workers’ demands, adding that if the government meets all demands within six weeks, the association will review the suspension and end the strike.
“We did not call off the strike but suspended it for six weeks to give room for the government to do the needful. If the government does what is required of it, we will review the suspension in six weeks and decide on what steps to take next. The agreement between NARD and the FG was signed early this year, it is the issue of implementation that led us to the strike. We agreed to suspend the strike because we saw that the government was beginning to show commitment,” he said.
Ishaya said that the government’s commitment pushed the association to hold an emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting to review its stand. According to the NARD president, when you are on the negotiating table, you have to shift some ground; when you see that the other party is ready to shift their ground, you reconsider.
He recalled that when the strike commenced, the government had insisted on its position of taking the association to court but it reconsidered and tried to negotiate with the association. “The government extended its goodwill to the association,” Ishaya said.
He said that since the government decided to shift grounds by making tangible efforts to meet the association’s demands, the association has also decided to reciprocate by suspending the strike, adding that the suspension would also give the association time to monitor the government’s implementation of its demands
“Our decision is in line with any system of negotiation where if the other party shifts grounds, you also should shift grounds that is the reason we held an emergency congress meeting and decided on the suspension. The suspension was decided upon even though many members did not agree with it. By suspending the strike, the association is putting the government on trial again just as we have always done.
“This will allow us to see if the government will keep to its promise. We have considered that we have masses in our midst who cannot afford to travel abroad for medical tourism and do not have the means to go to private hospitals. These individuals are the ones bearing the brunt of the strike hence the need to suspend the strike to enable them to access health services,” Ishaya said.
With the new development, hundreds of patients at government-owned health facilities who have been in an helpless situation may begin to heave a sigh of relief after the NARD members suspended their nationwide industrial action embarked upon over alleged unpaid allowance by the Federal Government.