Written by on September 27, 2021

A group of lawyers from various countries known as the International Lawyers Assisting Workers, ILAW Network, is calling on the Nigerian government to implement the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU signed with trade unions in the health sector, including the Nigerian Medical Association.

The lawyers, in a letter dated September 24, 2021, signed by its global Co-ordinator, Jeffrey Vogt, and addressed to Nigeria’s ministers of labour and employment, Chris Ngige and his Health counterpart, Osagie Ehanire expressed concerns over the poor treatment of doctors and other health workers in Nigeria.

The group is also accusing the Nigerian government of violating the striking doctors’ freedom to associate and justly demand fair treatment and improved welfare.

The body of international lawyers says the Nigerian government has failed to begin the implementation process of all agreements signed with the Nigeria Medical Association NMA, as well as three other affiliates in the health sector.

The lawyers note that from August 2021, thousands of National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD members resumed their strike over long unpaid salaries, hazardous working conditions in hospitals, and insufficient hazard allowances.

It adds that some doctors have not been paid their full salaries since the COVID-19 pandemic began over a year ago.

The lawyers stress that different MOUs signed had specific deadlines for implementation, including the payment of salary arrears, payment to the medical residency training fund, and a “no victimization” clause, all of which the Nigerian government has failed to meet.

The lawyers argue that the industrial court’s judgment ordering all doctors back to work fails to address the doctor’s concerns.

It adds that the Court cited the potential harm of the strike on public health and left the doctors’ concerns to be addressed at an undefined later date.

ILAW urges the Nigerian federal government to fully implement all outstanding MOUs without further delay and to ensure the doctors resume work.

Resident doctors across public health facilities in Nigeria have been on strike for 54 days.

The ILAW Network is currently a project of the Solidarity Centre, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization affiliated to the AFL-CIO and which is dedicated to the promotion of workers’ rights worldwide.

(Editor : Ena Agbanoma)

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