The National Association of Resident Doctors says the Abia State Government owes its members 16 months’ salary arrears.
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, had asked the doctors to forfeit the 16-month salary arrears in other for him to start implementing the new minimum wage for doctors in the state.
According to PUNCH HealthWise, Dr. Stanley Egbogu, the publicity secretary of NARD, disclosed this while speaking on the suspended strike embarked on by the association.
However, Abia State Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi-Kalu, debunk the claim made by NARD.
“Abia State Government never, at any time, asked any worker to forfeit any earned wage for any reason whatsoever. It will be illegal and morally wrong to do so and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu did not at any time give such directive.”
The members of NARD had, on Monday, September 7, embarked on an indefinite strike, protesting the failure of government to meet the payment demands they made in June during the peak of Coronavirus.
On Thursday, NARD revealed the strike would be suspended for two weeks to allow further negotiations with Nigerian Government.
While speaking on the conditions of health workers in Abuja, Egbogu said the Government is still owing their health workers and that the poor infrastructure in hospital.
“The Government of Abia State, despite not paying medical doctors the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale, has been owing health workers.
“Currently, the governor is asking them to forfeit the 16-month salaries for him to start implementing the new minimum wage for doctors.
“There is no access road to Abia State University Teaching Hospital as we speak. No form of infrastructural development. The situation in ABSUTH seems to be the worst across the country.
“It is really sad for Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu to treat doctors this way, despite seeing the importance of health when he suffered coronavirus disease,” he said.
However, the State Commissioner for Information, John Okiyi-Kalu, said NARD’s claim was not true.
Okiyi-Kalu said, “Abia State Government never, at any time, asked any worker to forfeit any earned wage for any reason whatsoever. It will be illegal and morally wrong to do so and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu did not at any time give such directive.
“From November 2019, we warehoused salary arrears due some parastatals, such as the Hospital Management Board that pays resident doctors and informed them that as soon as the financial fortunes of the state improve, we will start paying the arrears until totally liquidated.
“From November 2019, we took over the payment of HMB staff and have been paying them every month up to June 2020.
“They have July and August 2020 outstanding and the process is ongoing to ensure they receive July arrears next week, while August will follow thereafter.
“Resident doctors and other medical staff of HMB are already on a special salary scale termed CONMESS. All those on this special salary scale are already receiving salaries that are above minimum wage.”
“It is, therefore, not true that we are not paying them minimum wage or had asked them to forfeit earned wages before receiving minimum wage.
“Non-medical staff of HMB and other medical institutions in the state are receiving the new minimum wage because they are not in the CONMESS category.
“All workers in Abia State Ministries, Departments and Agencies who are directly paid by the state government have been receiving the new minimum wage since January 2020 and they do not have even one month in arrears.
“They have long received August 2020 salary and we are in early September.
“With regard to resident doctors working with the state teaching hospital, they are already on CONMESS, which is above minimum wage and nobody asked them to forfeit any earned wage.
“The state government has continued to pay monthly subventions to the teaching hospital and they are expected to add that to the revenue generated by the hospital to pay salaries and fund operations.”