The National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, has dragged the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Chuku Abali to the National Industrial Court, Enugu, over unresolved labour disputes.
The doctors said the suit became unavoidable as the CMD had allegedly failed to genuinely address basic issues affecting their welfare and the state off facilities in the hospital.
They said he had instead concluded plans to sack some of them.
The suit, which is yet to be fixed for hearing, has the NARD, FMC Umuahia President, Dr Orji Emeka Innocent and other executive members as plaintiff, has the CMD, as respondent.
They are seeking among other things, an order of court to make the CMD “desist from interfering with their residency programme by means of withdrawing or sacking any of them against the tenets of terms of their appointment.
“To address forthwith all the issues relating to the various remuneration owed to the doctors forth with either by immediate commencement of their payment or a concrete arrangement backed with sincere commitment on how you would address them.
According to Dr. Orji, the association had earlier issued a pre-action notice to the CMD, but he had remained defiant towards resolving the various issues of disagreements.
The letter entitled: “Two Weeks Ultimatum To Address Some Issues Affecting The Resident Doctors In Your Hospital,” was signed by the group’s counsel, Barr. Ike Maximus Ugwuoke.
He noted in the letter that “our clients have uncovered an orchestrated move by your good selves to withdraw some members of the Association undergoing residency training in the Hospital without recourse to the terms and conditions expressly stated in the relevant paragraphs of their letters of appointments patterned after the approved template letter of Appointment and Admission into the Residency Training Programme from the Federal Ministry of Health dated 18th July 2014 and agreement and resolutions reached between your good selves and our clients in the meetings involving the duo held on 19th November 2013 and 21st November 2013 and the residency training handbook of FMC Umuahia approved in 2005.”
While maintaining that such planned sack was illegal, he equally declared that “going by the residency training handbook of your hospital, the hospital management has not fulfilled it`s obligations to the resident doctors and therefore does not reserve any justifiable right to sack them for either failing to pass their exams or being ineligible to write exam. For he that comes to equity must come with clean hands.”
The doctors equally raised issues bordering on their remuneration, observing that whereas every other functional Federal Institutions in the South East geopolitical zone had commenced the full payment of 100% skipping to their resident Doctors, the FMC Umuahia was yet to do so.
“It is our brief that your good self has been victimizing our client each time they embark on strike action by making deductions from their salaries (including the 7days warning strike embarked upon by our Client’s national body in January 2017) basing your actions on a letter from the Federal Ministry of Health dated 2nd Feb 2011 to Chief Med Directors / Med Directors.
“The above directive, to us, is targeted at disarming, victimizing and eroding the use of strike by Associations/Trade Union’s as bargaining power of championing their interests during industrial disputes.
“It is also our firm stand that neither you nor anybody else has the power to determine the unlawfulness or otherwise of a strike action except a Court of law and your action of arrogating to yourself such power of declaring our client’s strike unlawful and then proceeding to penalize them on that ground makes you both the accuser and a judge in your own case. A situation that indeed negates the principle of natural justice (Nemo judex in causa sua.)
“It is our brief that our clients are not given the conducive work environment for their optimal performance owing to dearth in medical infrastructures and other manpower in your hospital.
“This situation has given rise to a savagery condition of work in the hospital where a resident doctor does the work of the cleaner, orderly, Nurses, and one Resident doctor doing the work of 5 doctors.
“This situation is not only unfortunate but also enslaving to our clients. The situation of No call for residents doctors in some departments or ill-furnished call rooms for others is no longer tolerable to our clients.”