‘No Work, No Pay’: Don’t blame doctor’s desperation to go to Saudi Arabia

Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire

The face-off between the Federal Government and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) has further degenerated, as the government has ordered the implementation of the ‘No Work, No Pay’ policy with effect from Monday, August 2, 2021.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, in a memo dated August 26, 2021 directed the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) and Medical Directors (MDs) of all the federal tertiary hospitals across the country to commence the implementation of the policy following the insistence of the doctors on continuing with the strike.

According to the memo titled, ‘Re: Law and Principles Concerning the Right to Strike, Application of Section 43 (1A) of the Trade Dispute Act Cap T8 Law of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004 (“No Work, No Pay”), signed by the Director Hospital Services, Dr. Adebimpe Adebiyi, the directive was in line with the Section 43 (1A) of the Trade Dispute Act.

The memo, with Re No: C. 5194/ T/ 407, read: “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 provisions of Section 43 (1a) of the Trade Dispute Act on “Special provisions with respect to payment of wages during strikes or 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 “No Work, No Pay” policy on the striking resident doctors with effect from Monday, August 2, 2021, including other health workers that may embark on strike subsequently.

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“This directive is in line with the provisions of section 43 (1) of the Trade Dispute Act which inter-alia states ‘…where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or remuneration for the period of the strike and shall not account for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all right dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicially affected accordingly…”

The memo directed the CMDs and MDs “to compute the financial implication of the “No Work, No Pay” from the salaries of the Resident Doctors and any other Health worker that participated in strike using the attached template and forward same to the IPPIS office through the Federal Ministry of Health for implementation with effect from August 2, 2021.”

This is coming after the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN), last Monday, rejected an application by the Federal Government to order the striking doctors to resume work.

The Judge, John Targema, rather ordered the two parties locked in the industrial dispute “to suspend all forms of hostilities and maintain status quo.”

Reacting to the development through its President, Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, NARD said the directive by the minister has vindicated the association’s position that the Federal Government was the cause of the strike.

Okhuaihesuyi told The Guardian that it was already 127 days since NARD had an agreement with the government, adding that the Federal Government has persistently failed to honour its own side of the bargain.

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He said: “Don’t be surprised that the next thing you will hear is that we have been sacked. Those are the antics they play. We always look at them and laugh but God will vindicate us. Nigerians should tell them to live up to their bargain. If people talk more, government will listen and do what they are supposed to do.

“I am not disappointed by that directive. It is what we expected because they are good at implementing bad policies; that shows where their interest lies. So, it’s not surprising. They said that they could hire doctors from abroad; this shows their level of seriousness. They should hire; we are here. We have been vindicated that they are the cause of the strike. They have failed to honour their own part of the bargain. It is already 127 days since we had an agreement with them. They have been the reason we have persistently been on strike because they failed to honour their own bargain.

“President Muhammadu Buhari had already told them to remove all technicalities, but we are surprised we are still at this stage. So, hopefully he will tell them to do what they are supposed to do. Nigerians should stand up and ask questions about why these people are doing what they are doing.”

On the ongoing recruitment of Nigerian doctors by Saudi Arabia, the NARD president said: “You won’t blame doctors who are trying to seek for greener pastures. Everybody wants a better life. Some of us are still here because of our aged parents. You won’t blame those that want to leave. If a doctor has not been paid for months, government should know that there are options; the options are much. If anybody wants to leave, you don’t blame them because they have been pushed to the wall”.

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Meanwhile, the Department of State Services (DSS) has denied dispersing medical doctors participating in a recruitment interview organised by a firm on behalf of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

A media report had claimed that DSS operatives stormed the hotel last Thursday morning and dispersed doctors and journalists, who gathered at the venue.

The report also alleged that a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, Marcus Fatunde, was arrested at the venue, but was later released.

But the DSS, in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, yesterday, said no operation was carried out in the hotel, adding that the report was designed to embarrass the organisation.

He said: “The attention of the DSS has once again been drawn to a falsehood being circulated in the media that it dispersed doctors attending a Saudi Arabia-organised job interview at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, yesterday, 26th August, 2021.

“Though this is illogical and does not add up, sections of the media that reported it did not care to verify the news before going to print. No further evidence was also adduced to prove that the DSS carried out such operation at the hotel. It is obvious that the news is only designed to embarrass the organisation.

“Journalists and other media practitioners are enjoined to crosscheck their facts and ensure that they do not use their platforms to mislead the public or undermine national security.”

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