Strike: No more negotiations with resident doctors —Ngige
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige has ruled out any further discussion with the leadership of National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) over the ongoing strike.
Dr. Ngige made the disclosure during an interview on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television on Friday.
Ngige warned the striking doctors that the government has invoked the “no work no pay” rule as contained in Section 43 of the Labour Act, adding that the doctors will not receive payment as long as the strike lasts.
He also stated that the position of government has been communicated to the leadership of NARD.
He said: “I won’t meet them anymore because I have other things to do. I did two conciliations 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. 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 Organisation 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 government for a ride and it is wrong. They are playing with lives.”
Asked if he will invoke the labour laws next week, the Minister said: “I will and by next week I will escalate it because reconcilation has failed and the law says if conciliation has failed on my own side I can move it up – Industrial Arbitration Panel or National Industrial Court of Nigeria.
“The ones (demands) that are Federal Government have been treated. If I did 95 per cent for you that is 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.”
Asked if the Federal Government could 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 are under control.