The FG has urged the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) to call off the ongoing strike. In response, the FG has stated they would withdraw their case against them from the NIC. The strike began in July by the National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD. They complained about unpaid salaries and poor benefits towards doctors in Nigeria. This is the 4th time doctors have gone on strike amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.
Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labor and Employment, took the case to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC). The FG has stated that they will withdraw the case if doctors go back to work. NARD called the request to return to work shameful. They also said it was an embarrassment to President Muhammadu Buhari.
This came in conjecture with the Joint Health Sector Union’s notice to embark on a strike. The President of the Joint Health Sector Union of Nigeria (JOHESUN), Josiah Biobelemonye, gave Chris Ngige an ultimatum. He gave a 15-day ultimatum if the FG does not address the issues raised by the workers.
Some of the issues the union listed included payment of withheld salaries for April and May 2018. These salaries were withheld from
the Federal Medical Centre, Owerri; the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, and the Jos University Teaching Hospital. Another issue was a call to review the defective implementation of COVID-19 Special Inducement and Hazard Allowance.
The Federal Government insists that the Nigerian doctors on strike must observe the “no work, no pay” policy. This is because of Section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act. Chris Ngige reported that the FG is working towards meeting the demands of the Nigerian doctors on strike. He stated that the Government has met all the issues raised in the 12-point issues presented by the association. He further stated that Section 43 of the Trades Disputes Act was holding them back.
The section permits employers to withhold payment of remuneration to workers if workers withhold services from their employer. The money meant for the employer can be paid to others who have been working while the employer went on strike. Chris Ngige also mentioned that before unions go on strike, they should meet and talk with their workers about how long the strike will last. They should also have strike funds which they should use to pay workers.
Meanwhile, Chris Ngige also stated that millions of Naira had been paid to about 588 Nigerian doctors. He mentioned that the Medical Residency Training fund was meant for a different category of doctors but had been wrongly paid to a different set of doctors. The error was spotted and the names were sieved through a list of 8000 names which the Chief Medical Directors of Federal Government Health Institutes for the training program.
He reported that the correct list of Nigerian doctors set to benefit from the training had been collected and some of the money had already been refunded.