LBy Michael Oche
The federal government on Thursday warned that it will no longer tolerate strike that does not follow due process by any union, during this transition period of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Sen. Chris Ngige issued the warning, shortly after receiving an “Award of Excellence,” conferred on him by the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) at the 42nd Annual General Meeting/Scientific Conference of the association.
According to a statement by Olajide Oshundun, Head, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment, the award was presented during when the immediate past executive of NARD, led the new leadership of the union on a courtesy visit to Ngige
According to the statement, during the visit, the new leadership also raised some concerns of the doctors, chief of which is the review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) wage structure. Others are the correction of some minor errors in the circular on upward review of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), non-taxation of the call duty allowance and non-payment of the new hazard allowances to house officers.
Speaking on the review of CONMESS, Ngige noted that a committee had already been put in place at the Federal Ministry of Health, which was working internally for the time being, but would swing into action next week, to dialogue with the resident doctors and members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).
He told the doctors that there was no need for them to issue strike threat when the government had put a process in motion to address their concerns.
He said: “The Federal Government will no longer tolerate strike that does not pass through due process by any union, until the end of President Muhammadu Buhari administration in May next year. Any group that embarks on strike will be visited with Section 43 of the Trade Dispute Act (TDA), Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, which says that when a worker goes on strike, especially those on essential services, the employer can also refuse to pay compensation or wages which accompanies work done.
“The due process of a strike is that social dialogue negotiation with employers should be explored first and in the event of the failure, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment office in the affected state/Federal Capital Territotry should be notified and finally, a Trade Dispute Notice (TDN) served.”
Ngige advised all aggrieved unions to emulate the doctors and commence proactive discussions with the Federal Government, rather than resort to strike whenever issues arose.
Reacting to the circular on upward review of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), he assured that the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission was working on it, adding that the area of domiciliation of the fund for residents would be addressed during negotiation to align it with the National Residency Training Fund Act, which is the guiding law, saying a circular derives its life from extant law.