No work, no pay, FG warns resident doctors


THE Federal Government has warned the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) against its planned strike action, saying there would be no payment for doctors absent from work during the period.

The warning was issued in a statement signed by the Director, Press and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment Olajide Oshundun, on Tuesday, May 16.

According to the statement, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige urged the doctors to dialogue with the Ministry of Health rather than embark on the strike action, which he described as unknown to law.

“I will advise them to attend the meeting with the Minister of Health tomorrow. I will also advise them very strongly not to go on five-day warning strike. There is nothing like warning strike. A strike is a strike. If they want to take that risk, the options are there. It is their decision.

“They have the right to strike. You cannot deny them that right. But their employer has another right under Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act to withhold their pay for those five days. So, if the NARD has strike funds to pay their members for those five days, no problem,” Ngige said.

He also said the Ministry of Health would employ ad hoc staff to replace the striking doctors adding that the Federal Government cannot compel states to domesticate the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), one of the doctors’ demands.

According to the minister, contrary to claims by the doctors, the Federal Government had paid the minimum wage adjustment arrears.

He however said a 200 per cent pay rise demanded by the doctors was not feasible at the moment.

The statement pointed out that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) had already commenced negotiations with the Federal Ministry of Health, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and the Presidential Committee on Salaries on a pay rise for doctors.

The ICIR reported that NARD, on Monday, May 15, declared a five-day warning strike, which would take effect on Wednesday, May 17, over what the medical doctors described as the refusal of the Federal Government to meet their demands.

Some of the demands include payment of the 2023 Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), payment of arrears on the consequential minimum wage adjustment, and increase in the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) structure by 200 per cent.

The doctors also called for the immediate suspension of a bill seeking to amend the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) Act.

The bill, which has passed second reading, was sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, Johnson Ganiyu, and aims to withhold full licensing of doctors and dentists for at least five years to restrict emigration. The proposed legislation has generated a lot of criticism from doctors.

Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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