Socialist Workers & Youth League (SWL) fully supports the resident doctors’ strike action, in pursuit of the seven demands of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), including: the immediate payment of resident doctors by tertiary health institutions that have received funding for this; an end to ‘persistent shortfalls and unpaid arrears of salaries’ of doctors; resolution of issues around ‘stagnation of promotion and non-promotion of members’ of NARD; implementation of the National Health Act; improvement of hospitals facilities, equipment and the poor working conditions of all doctors.
Health, as an adage goes, is wealth. Provision of healthcare delivery requires well remunerated doctors and other health workers as well as provision of necessary infrastructure, equipment and drugs in public health facilities. It is thus appalling that the budgetary allocation for the health sector, is far below global standards and the African Union’s agreed 15 percent provision. With a meager 6 percent set aside for health in the country’s 2017 budget, whilst countries like Botswana allocate as much as 18 percent of their budget to the sector, it is hardly surprising that infrastructure drugs and other necessities for qualitative health delivery are lacking in Nigeria.
It is poor working-class people that are made to bear the brunt of this worrisome situation. The rich bosses, including our political leaders are always quick at jumping into the next available plane oversees for treatment of common ailments at our expense, as clearly demonstrated with the recent drama of President Muhammadu Buhari’s extensive medical vacations.
Thus, Socialist Workers & Youth League (SWL) stands in solidarity with the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) as it struggles for its members’ rights and improvement of the health sector for the benefit of the poor masses. We take note of the federal government’s declaration of conciliation with a pinch of salt.
The Ministry of Health’s supposed neutrality as an arbiter in industrial relations is generally fraudulent. Even when the employers concerned in an industrial dispute are private sector bosses, governments at all levels represent the interest of this class of bosses.
And in this particular case as with that of ASUU and most major industrial conflicts over the years, the government which presents itself as an umpire is a player in the conflict, as employer. Further, the government has repeatedly demonstrated bad faith in negotiations – refusing to respect collective agreements and thus undermining any basis of confidence in its words.
We encourage NARD not to be intimidated by any reactionary strategy of the government. Resident doctors should mobilise mass actions to popularize its cause, including the need for universal healthcare. SWL also calls on NARD to build alliances with other health sector unions to ensure concerted efforts and the consolidation of workers’ power needed to win concessions for members of the various unions in the sector and improvement in the public health system.
SWL members will join demonstrations and other actions needed to shore up popular support for the NARD strike and win access to better health services for working-class people.
Workers & Youth! Unite & Fight!
Frances Jole Lai Brown
National Chairperson National Secretary