Following the recent appeal by the Nigerian government to resident doctors to call off their strike and return to work, the government is set to take the route of the ‘No work, No pay’ rule as implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO).
This was made known by the Minister of health, Osagie Ehanire during the 18th ministerial briefing at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday. He was accompanied by heads of three agencies under the Ministry of Health; Professor Mojisola Adeyeye of the National Agency For Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); and Dr. Faisal Shuibu of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The Minister, while appealing to Nigerian doctors to call off the over 11-days and counting ongoing strike action, he stated that Nigeria could be the only country in the world where doctors are on strike amidst the global pandemic. He further said that the ‘No work, No pay’ rule is not a punitive measure against the striking doctors but an implementation of the provisions of the law.
In his words, “We have said openly that this is not a good time for doctors to go on strike. We are having a strike for the third time this year; that is not good. Every country that has a difficult situation at this time should understand that responsibility is on all of us. If you have any problem, any grudges, let’s talk about it.
I think Nigeria is probably the only country in the world today where doctors are dropping work in the middle of a threat to the whole country.”
Reacting to the ‘No work, No pay’ rule set by the government, he had this to say;
“Yes, but that is the standard thing. ILO recommends that if you did not work, then why will you take your salary that comes from taxpayers’ money?”
Members of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) embarked on strike on August 1, 2021, to protest repeated failure by the federal government to fulfill agreements within the association. Although a meeting was organized by the House Committee on Health on August 9 and 10 to address the issues leading to the industrial strike action by the resident doctors, there was no consensus reached as the issues remained unresolved. Four major issues were discussed during the meeting – the training funds for resident doctors, salary shortfall from 2014 to 2016, the fate of doctors employed without due process, and removal of resident and NYSC doctors from the scheme of service.
The federal government has, however, taken the doctors to the Industrial Court to show cause why the government should continue to pay them while they are on strike.
Responding to this, the doctors stated that they will not back down from the strike and will be at the Industrial Court on Monday.