Nigerian government invokes ‘no work, no pay’ for striking doctors, other health workers

NIGERIAN doctors will forfeit their salaries within the period they are on strike, a memo by the government has revealed.

The memo affects doctors in the employ of the Federal Government, that is, doctors working in tertiary hospitals.  

The memo, dated August 26, will also affect any health worker in the tertiary hospital that proceeds on strike.

It is not immediately clear if state governments in the country will adopt a similar position for their aggrieved doctors and other health workers.

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The Director of Department of Hospital Services Adebimpe Adebiyi signed the memo with reference number C. 5194/T/407 and addressed it to all chief medical directors and medical directors of tertiary hospitals.

It was titled: “RE: RE: Law and Principles Concerning the Right to Strike: Application of Section 43 (1) (A) of the Trade Dispute Act, Cap T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 (‘No Work No Pay’).”

According to the document obtained by our reporter, the government invoked Section 43 (i) and (a) of the Trade Dispute Act on special provision for payment of wages during strikes and lock-outs known in labour parlance as ‘No Work, NO Pay.’

Part of the memo reads, “The Ministry is in receipt of a letter from the Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment (FMoL&E), informing the ministry of the laws governing the ongoing strike by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and the need to immediately apply the provision of the Section 43 (i) and (a) of the Trade Dispute Act on ‘Special provision with respect to payment of wages during strikes and lock-outs’ known in labour parlance as ‘No Work, NO Pay’ with effect from Monday August 2 2021 when the strike was commenced by NARD members.”

“Consequent on the above, I am directed to inform you to commence the implementation of the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy on striking doctors with effect from Monday August 2 2021 including other health workers that may embark on strike subsequently… 

“You are to compute the financial implication of the ‘No Work, No Pay’ from the salaries of the resident doctors and any other health workers that participated in strike, using the attached template and forward same to the IPPIS office through the FMoH for implementation with effect from August 2, 2021.”

Ngige, who issued the memo, is a medical doctor. He retired from the Federal Ministry of Health, where he held different leadership positions.

He has been widely attacked by his contemporaries for making uncomplimentary remarks about the working conditions of doctors in the country and taking decisions believed to have negative impacts on the health sector.

The NARD resumed the strike it suspended in April on August 2, following the failure of the Federal Government to meet its demands.

The NARD is also aggrieved with state governments such as Ondo, Ekiti, Imo and Abia, which owe its members for months.

The Federal Government had a meeting with the doctors on Friday, August 20, to amicably resolve the crisis. However, the doctors refused to sign a Memorandum of Understanding developed during the meeting with the government.

In a further attempt to get the doctors back to work, the Federal Government approached the National Industry Court to order the doctors back to work. 

The court on Monday, August 23, directed the doctors to return to work to allow the government to continue seeking means of meeting their demands.

However, the doctors said the government must meet their demands before they could return to work.

    The NARD, which consists of house officers and resident doctors, are more in public hospitals than consultants who are senior doctors.

    Some of the doctors’ demands include: reversal by the government, the circular from the Head of Service of the Federation which removed house officers from the scheme of service; increase in hazard allowance for doctors beyond N5,000; payment of doctors who are being owed by state and federal governments; and payment of the National Minimum Wage Consequential Adjustment to some of the doctors by the government.

    Others are: the domestication of the Medical Residency Training Act of 2017 by state governments; recruitment of more doctors by the government to reduce workload in hospitals, and  payment of COVID-19 inducement allowance to all the doctors working in federal and state health facilities.

    The ICIR had, on Thursday, reported how doctors, who said they could no longer bear the pains of working in hospitals in the country, thronged a recruitment centre in Abuja with a view to jetting out to Saudi Arabia where there are better working conditions.

    Marcus bears the light, and he beams it everywhere. He's a good governance and decent society advocate. He's The ICIR Reporter of the Year 2022 and has been the organisation's News Editor since September 2022. Contact him via email @ [email protected].

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