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If you return to work, we’ll drop court case against you, FG tells striking resident doctors

Addressing State House correspondents in Abuja after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the 12-point demand of the striking doctors had been met, adding that the government followed the global standard.

Chris Ngige

 

The Federal Government has given a condition for the withdrawal of the court case instituted against the striking members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).

It said if the doctors call off their industrial action which has paralyzed activities in government-owned hospitals nationwide and return to work, the case will be withdrawn.

The government also reiterated its stance on the “no work, no pay’’ policy it has invoked, insisting it is in line with global practice in Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act under the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Addressing State House correspondents in Abuja after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said the 12-point demand of the striking doctors had been met, adding that the government followed the global standard.

“In the main, I discussed the state of the healthcare system industrial disputes with Mr. President. As you well know, the resident doctors are still on strike; their strike has now entered the 33rd day today. Meanwhile, government is doing everything possible to make sure they get back to work.

“Out of their 12-point issues raised in their demands, we have done all, we have come to agreements on all, including those that even affect the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria and medical doctors who are in academics and teaching universities.

“We have handled all, the only point of disagreement now is that they said that the agreements and the memorandum of action, government should inserts, include that Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act will not apply to them.

“That section says that when a worker withdraws his services from his employer, the employer is at liberty to withhold payment of emoluments to him and the ILO principles at work and strike said you can use that money to pay other people you have engaged in that particular period of strike.

“So, you have a right to strike, but your employer has also the right to withhold your emolument. More importantly, in other climes, before unions go on strike, by that principle, they discuss with their workers and bring out what they call strike funds and it’s from that strike funds that the union will use to pay the workers that have gone on strike. They will also agree on the number of days the strike will last,’’ the minister said.

On the ‘no work, no pay’ rule, Ngige also said:“So, this is where we are with them and we are saying that even if anybody cares to put it in any agreement, that clause will be void ab initio because it is against the law of the land and we will not, as a government, succumb to undue arm-twisting and then go and sign that.

“Other workers have lost their pay during strikes; the Joint Health Systems Union JOHESU), they lost their pay in 2018 when they went on four months strike, they lost about two or three months pay when the no-work, no-pay was invoked.

“I briefed Mr. President and we’ve agreed that they should come back to work and if they come back to work, we can take other things from there; we’ll drop the case in court and then they will come back and get things done.

“The Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission, in conjunction with the Office of the Head of Service, had a meeting and they are jointly going to do a circular that will be issued for Salaries, Incomes and Wages to reiterate that the House Officers and Youth Corps doctors are still on CONMES scale, one and two respectively. So, I think we are doing the implementation.”

Persecondnews recalls that the federal government had approached the court to grant two interim injunctions against members of NARD in all the states of the federation, pending the determination of the suit.

Among others it wants an order of interlocutory injunction restraining members of the Defendant/Respondent in all states of the federation from further continuing with the industrial action embarked upon on the 2nd day of August 2021, contrary to section 41 of the Trade Dispute Act, pending the termination of the substantive suit.

The government is also seeking an order of interlocutory injunction compelling all members of the Defendant/Respondent in all states of the federation to suspend the said industrial action which commenced on August 2, 2021 and resume work immediately, pending the determination of the substantive suit.

 

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Written by Per Second News

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