Nigerian doctors begin first-phase warning strike

 Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, yesterday, withdrew their services from public hospitals across the country.

Nigerian doctors today began a 5-day warning strike following a 21-day ultimatum issued weeks ago to the federal government, demanding pay rise, improved welfare, infrastructure and other benefits which was promised to them.

The Association has announced that the first phase of the strike would last for just 5 days and would continue its second phase after the yuletide season if the government fails to intervene as quickly as possible.

The NMA President, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, who briefed vanguard on phone, disclosed that the Association earlier issued a 21-day ultimatum which has expired, hence the need for a strike action to drive home their demands.

He said: “We had a meeting called by the Minister of Labour and this meeting lasted from 3.30p.m. on Monday till 5a.m. on Tuesday.

“The meeting had in attendance, Ministers of Labour and Health; Chairman, House Committee on Health, and a delegation of the NMA.

“Others included the Permanent Secretary, Labour and Health, representatives of Salaries & Wages, the Head of Service and Budgets Office.

“The meeting raised a memorandum of understanding, MoU, where the government side signed a promissory note that they will attend to the demands by January 6, 2014.

“It was also agreed that if government could meet the minimum demand of the issues at stake in terms of income, wages and discrepancies in our salaries and lastly funding of healthcare, we would reconsider.

“If they can reach at least one of the demands, we will reconsider our stand. But they only came up with the MoU, which was not part of our agreement with doctors.”

He however disclosed that it was not for the Association to decide whether to suspend or continue with the strike due to the MoU, as such decisions would have to come from the members.

“Only members can take decision because they have once been deceived by an MoU,” he stated

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