Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) have been warned by the federal government against their planned five-day warning strike.
The warning was given by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige after he received a letter of notification from the NARD executive on the planned industrial action on Tuesday in Abuja.
Speaking in a statement signed by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Ngige described the strike as "illegal".
He also called for dialogue between the aggrieved doctors and their employers.
“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 a five-day warning strike.
“There is nothing like a 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 ad-hoc people for those five days and they will use the money of the people who went on strike to pay the ad-hoc 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”, Ngige stated.
Speaking further, the minister advised the doctors against their demand for a 200 per cent pay rise, saying it is not feasible.
“Besides all the government has done for doctors and other workers in the health sector, such as upward review of hazard allowances, the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) was already negotiating with the Federal Ministry of Health, National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission and the Presidential Committee on Salaries on a pay rise for doctors.
“It is incongruous for student doctors to embark on strike when consultants training them were already negotiating with the Federal Government.”
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