We’ll replace you with adhoc staff if you embark on strike, FG warns doctors



Uba Group

The Federal Government has warned doctors planning to go on a five-day warning strike that they will not be paid if they do not work.

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, advised the National Association of Resident Doctors to shelve the planned action, which he described as illegal, saying an employer had the right to withhold their pay for the duration of the strike.

He spoke on Tuesday, shortly after receiving a letter from the Association, notifying him of the industrial action, scheduled to commence today (Wednesday).

The Minister said, on receiving the letter, he reached out to the Minister of Health, who informed him that his office had scheduled a meeting with the resident doctors, which would hold on Wednesday (today).

Ngige stated, “I would advise them to attend the meeting with the Minister of Health tomorrow. I would also advise them very strongly not to go on a 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. The Health Minister will instruct the teaching hospitals to employ adhoc people for those five days and they will use the money of the people who went on strike to pay the adhoc doctors. That is the ILO principles at decent work, especially for those rendering essential services. Lives should be protected.

“One of my sons is a resident doctor. I will advise him to go to work and sign the attendance register. The people seen at work are the ones to receive their pay. If you don’t work, there will be no pay.”

On the five demands of the doctors, the Minister said the Federal Government lacked the powers to compel the states to domesticate the Medical Residency Training Fund, since health is in the residual list, where both the federal and state governments have the powers to legislate.