Doctors Want To Be Paid When They Aren’t Working — I Won’t Support Illegality, Says Ngige

 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, says it is illegal for doctors to expect to be paid when they aren’t at their duty posts.

 

On August 2, the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) commenced a strike over “irregular payment of salaries”, among other issues.

 

Efforts by stakeholders, including the National Assembly, to mediate between the federal government and the resident doctors have not yielded results.

 

Speaking on Saturday when Sam Jaja, chairman of the Forum of Health Institutions in Nigeria (FCHIN), paid him a visit in Abuja, Ngige said he will not support the demand of the doctors because it is against the law.

 

“[The doctors want that] section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act should not apply to them. That we should insert in a government agreement that they should be paid for the period they are not at work. I’m being careful about this,” the minister said.

 

“This is law and I will not lend myself to illegality, to state in the agreement that a group of Nigerians are above the law. But as a matter of fact, a clause in that agreement states clearly that nobody should be punished for participating or not participating in the strike.

 

“So what else do they want ? They want me to put in writing that they are above the law. That “no work, no pay” policy should not apply to them. That the “no work, no pay” is no more part of our law, despite the fact that I swore to uphold the constitution?

 

“This is notwithstanding that a clause in the agreement says that no one should be punished for any role in the strike.”

 

On his part, Jaja said the strike by the doctors is “insensitive”.

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“We feel so concerned the strike hasn’t been called off. Strike should be the last resort when every other effort has been exhausted in terms of finding a solution to whatever the problem is,” the chairman said.

 

“For any little thing, you resort to disruption of services; it does not portray the country in good light. It doesn’t also portray the profession in good light, most especially a profession that has to do with the preservation of human lives.

 

“It makes them (doctors) insensitive and that is not right. For whatever reason, I think we should nip it in the bud. That is what we as a Forum of Chairmen of Health Institutions of Nigeria are in for.

 

“We need to find a solution to this. It is not good for us and it is not good for them.”

 

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