Abeokuta—The Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has given the Federal Government two weeks to increase the Consolidated Medical Salary Structure (CONMESS).
The doctors gave the ultimaum on Saturday in a communique issued at the end of the extraordinary council meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) held in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
The communique was signed by the President, Dr Innocent Orji; Secretary-General, Dr Kelechi Chikezie, and the Publicity and Social Secretary, Dr Musa Umar.
It said that the increment should be to the tune of 200 per cent of the current gross salary of doctors and also be in addition to the new allowances included in the letter written to the Minister of Health in 2022 for the review of CONMESS.
According to the association, it observed that in spite of several engagements with the Federal Government on the need to upwardly review CONMESS, which was last reviewed over 10 years ago, there are no changes.
“The Federal Government has neither called NARD to the negotiation table nor taken any tangible step in addressing the issue.
“This is against the background of the dwindling economic situation in the country, the serial abysmal decline in the value of the Naira, the imminent removal of fuel subsidy and the consequent damaging effect on the cost of living in the country.
“There have been previous ultimatums issued to the government by NARD on account of this problem of the review of the CONMESS salary structure.”
It added that the previous Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) on CONMESS stated clearly that the salary structure would be due for review after five years, but this has not been done since the implementation in 2014, though the approval was given in 2009.
“NEC has resolved to issue the Federal Government a two-week ultimatum beginning on Saturday, April 29, to resolve all these demands, following the expiration of which on May 13, we may not be able to guarantee industrial harmony in the sector nationwide.”
The group also demanded the immediate payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF) in line with the agreements reached at the stakeholders’ meeting convened by the Federal Ministry of Health.
NARD also demanded the commencement of payment of all salary arrears owed to its members including 2014, 2015 and 2016 salary arrears as well as areas of the consequential adjustment of the minimum wage.
“NEC regrettably observed that many state governors are yet to implement the appropriate CONMESS structure, domesticate the Medical Residency Training Act (MRTA) or improve on the hazard allowance paid to our colleagues and other health workers while owing a backlog of salary arrears to our members.
“NEC seriously frowned at these negative developments in the states which have lingered for a long time now, wondering how such state governors get to sleep at night seeing that they are endangering the lives of the citizens of their various states.”
It however urged the immediate implementation of CONMESS, domestication of MRTA, and review of hazard allowance by all the state governments as well as Private Tertiary Health Institutions where any form of residency training is done.
On the issue of compulsory five-year service licensing of doctors being proposed by the House of Representatives, the association vehemently condemned the bill.
It said the bill was seeking to enslave young Nigerian doctors by restricting their fundamental human rights of freedom of choice and movement, adding that such would escalate the challenge of brain drain in the health sector.
It, however, called for the immediate withdrawal and jettisoning of the bill.
The group demanded an immediate massive recruitment of clinical staff in the hospitals and complete abolishment of bureaucratic limitations to the immediate replacement of doctors who leave the system.
“NEC demands immediate infrastructural development in our various hospitals without further delay and insists on at least 15 per cent budgetary allocation to health subsequently.”