Port Harcourt - The Rivers Government has begun negotiation with the Association of Resident Doctors over the four months unpaid salary arrears owed members of the association in the state.
Dr Somieari Issac-Harry, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Health, made this known in Port Harcourt on Thursday.
Resident doctors at Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital (BMSH) had on Monday issued a three-day ultimatum after which they would embark on strike, if the government failed to offset the outstanding salaries.
Issac-Harry said the delay in payment of the salaries was caused by shortage of funds.
“We want the union to understand and be patient with government because government is desirous to pay them.
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“It is also worthy to note that government which takes seriously the welfare of healthcare workers is not owing doctors in the state.
“What government is owing are salaries of House officers or doctors who are on their one year mandatory internship in BMSH.”
Issac-Harry said the union had met and agreed to call an emergency congress to suspend the action.
He said the state government was making efforts to integrate the resident doctors' salaries into the civil service emolument structure, to avoid delay in future payment.
Reacting, Dr Emmanuel Dawari-Furo, the President of the association, confirmed that government had met with the union to resolve the matter.
Dawari-Furo said the association had issued a 48-hour ultimatum that would expire by midnight on Friday but added that an emergency congress would be held to take a position on the government proposal.