The Federal Government has warned members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve their planned five-day warning strike, describing it as illegal.
Information Nigeria had reported that the impending industrial action is billed to begin today, May 17 and end Monday, May 22 by 8am
However, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, gave the warning on Tuesday night in Abuja, shortly after receiving a letter of notification from the NARD executive on the planned strike.
The minister in a statement signed by Olajide Oshundun, Director, Press and Public Relations said he contacted the Minister of Health, who informed him that a meeting has been scheduled with the resident doctors on Wednesday.
Ngige who was reacting to the letter, delivered to his office same day, therefore advised the doctors to avail themselves of the opportunity for social dialogue with their employer, rather than embark on warning strike, which is unknown to the law.
His words, “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.
“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,” he said.
He added that the people seen at work are the ones to receive their pay.
“If you don’t work, their will be no paid,” Ngige said.