The Federal Government has called off further negotiations with the leadership of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) over its industrial action, ordering the striking doctors to resume in seven days or risk being sacked.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who disclosed this when he appeared Friday night on Channels’ “Politics Today”, said the government has given the striking doctors seven days ultimatum to return to their jobs or risk being replaced by Monday next week.
Ngige said the government has invoked the “No work no pay” rule as contained in Section 43 of the Labour Act. Which means the doctors will not receive payment for as long as the strike persists.
The minister further disclosed that the government may drag the doctors to the National Industrial Court or Industrial Arbitration Panel, if they refuse to call off the strike by Monday.
He also noted that the position of government had been conveyed to the leadership of NARD.
“I won’t meet them anymore because I have other things to do. I did two conciliation yesterday. Am I going to be wasting my time with them?
“I have other tools within the labour laws and I will do it. I invoked Section 43 of the labour laws this afternoon (yesterday). I have communicated it to NARD. They will not receive money for the period they are on strike and it will never count as a period of pensionable position in their career.
“Even the International Labour Organization supports it because they render essential services. They are not supposed to go on strike without notifying me 15 days before the day of strike.
“As we speak, I have not received any notification. That is why I am invoking Section 43 of the Labour Act on withdrawal of services, right to strike and the right to protect the employer and their patients.
“Things will happen next week. Let them wait because they are taking the government for a ride and it is wrong. They are playing with their lives.” He warned.
When asked by the presenter if he would invoke the labour laws next week, the minister said “I will and by next week I will escalate it , because reconciliation has failed and the law says if conciliation has failed; on my own side, I can move it up to Industrial Arbitration Panel or National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
“The demands of the Federal Government have been treated. If I did 95 per cent for you, that is a distinction
“I have given them seven days (the day the strike started); it started on Monday. My seven days terminates on Monday. I will invoke other things that are allowed by law. The employer has a right to replace them in the period they were away.
“You can use local doctors to replace them. There are many people on the standby.
On how the country can cope without the doctors, who are rendering critical services at a time when there are rising cases of COVID-19 and diarrhea, Ngige said things were under control.
He blamed state governments for the situation and for not doing their part to tackle the issue. He accused them of not doing enough in terms of healthcare in the country.
The minister said he has warned his children who are medical doctors to stay off the ongoing strike which he described “nonsense
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