FG, NMA to continue negotiations on hazard allowance

The federal government and the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) will continue their negotiation on the proposed new hazard allowance for doctors working in government owned hospitals  this week.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this after a marathon meeting of the Presidential Committee on Salaries with the leadership of NMA and its affiliates on the review of the hazard allowance in the health sector.
Ngige recalled that they started this discussion with all the health workers since March but along the line, NMA disagreed on fundamental principles of negotiation with the Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).
He explained that the president of NMA requested that the discussion should be compartmentalized, which is allowed in Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
According to the minister, “when people who are not doing the same work are negotiating an interest, if they decide to be separated, it can be done abinitio or midway, but that will put a lot of load on the negotiator.”
He however appealed to the NMA and JOHESU to sheath their swords to enable the conclusion of discussion on the matter before the end of this September.
Ngige said, “If we do so, it is to your own advantage because it has to be captured in the 2022 budget. Government will also look at its purse and if there is money, the President will sign and it will be a win-win situation for all of us.
“Last week we discussed with JOHESU. We had a fruitful discussion. It is in that spirit that I am asking you that this should be fruitful, so that we can rest the issue of paying N5000 hazard allowance. In 2020, it was not you who informed government. “It was by our own volition that we invited both sides to the meeting where we handed over special COVID allowances to medical and dental workers and other allied health workers and we did it seamlessly. I don’t know whether it was because of the fear of COVID that you worked together.
“Today, the divide is there. Having read the altercation between you and JOHESU, which is in the media, we can’t believe that both of you are managing one patient. We are appealing to you, let us unite and see how we can navigate this thing. This is COVID-19 period. Stop this dichotomy between you and JOHESU. Both of you are managing one patient. It is team work. Nobody can do it alone.”
On the prolonged strike of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Ngige called out striking resident doctors, saying they were insensitive to the plight of Nigerians by embarking on strike at the middle of a pandemic. He maintained that the federal government had been religiously implementing its own part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) it signed with the NMA, but rather than do their own part, the doctors  chose to make the Government the weeping dog.