The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has said why he is not interested in meeting with the striking resident doctors.
In his explanation, Ngige said that he has better use of his time, having had two conciliation meetings with them the previous day and won’t keep wasting time with them as he has other things to do.
This was made known by Ngige, while appearing as a guest on a Channels Television programme, Politics Today on Friday night.
What the Minister of Labour and Employment said
Ngige said, “I have other things to do. I did two conciliations again yesterday, am I going to keep wasting time with them?
“As of the 22nd (of July), they said they were happy, they were praising me, saying I am kind, I am compassionate, advising public servants in Nigeria to behave like me. Where government officials are wrong, I tell them, and I give them an ultimatum and time frame to perfect whatever it is, so why do you go on strike one week after?”
On the statement by resident doctors that the strike will be indefinite, Ngige said, “No problem! I have other tools permitted for me by labour laws. I invoked section 43 this afternoon.’’
Section 43 of the Labour Act states, in part, that for the period a worker withdraws his services, the government or his employers are not entitled to pay.
“I have communicated it to NARD,” Ngige said, stressing that “they will not receive money for the period they are on strike and it will never count as a period for pensionable position in their career.’’
The minister insisted that as essential workers, they are not expected to go on strike without notifying him at least 15 days prior.
He added, “They are taking government for a ride and they are playing with people’s lives.’’
While the doctors continue to call on the government to fully take up its responsibilities, the Federal Government continues to insist that most of the issues they have raised are state affairs.
In case you missed it
- It can be recalled that on August 2, 2021, medical doctors under the aegis of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) commenced an indefinite strike across the country with effect following a directive that was issued at the end of the executive meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the union held in Umuahia, the Abia State capital
- Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire had earlier said that 7 of 12 issues that were raised by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), were the responsibility of state governments and consequently expects the resident doctors to resume work and take up the issues with the state governments rather than embark on the nationwide strike as they had done.
- However, the NARD President Dr. Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi criticised the Federal Government for failing to do its own job but rather blaming the doctors for embarking on industrial action.