FG cautions workers against quick resort to industrial action
The Federal Government says it will no longer tolerate industrial strikes that do not follow due process “, particularly during the transition period of the current administration”.
A statement by Mr Olajide Oshundun, Head, of Press and Public Relations in the Ministry of Labour and Employment, said that Sen Chris Ngige, the minister, said this on Thursday in Abuja.
It said he spoke 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.
The News Agency Nigeria (NAN) reports that the award was presented by the immediate past executive council of NARD.
It would also be recalled that the new executive had, during a courtesy visit to Ngige, raised some concerns of the doctors.
NARD had called for the review of the Consolidated Medical Salary Scale (CONMESS) wage structure.
It also sought the correction of some “minor errors” in the circular on the upward review of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), and non-taxation of the call duty allowance and complained about the non-payment of the new hazard allowances to house officers.
On the review of CONMESS, Ngige said that a committee had already been put in place at the Federal Ministry of Health, which was already working internally.
“It (committee) will swing into action next week, to dialogue with the resident doctors and members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU),’’ he said.
He, therefore, said that there was no need for the doctors to issue a strike threat when the government had put a process in motion to address their concerns.
“The Federal Government will no longer tolerate a strike that does not pass through due process.
“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.
“It says that when a worker goes on strike, especially those on essential services, the employer can also refuse to pay compensation or wages which accompany work done.
“The due process of a strike is that social dialogue negotiation with employers should be explored first.
“In the event of failure, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment office in the affected state or FCT should be notified and, finally, a Trade Dispute Notice (TDN) served,’’ he said.
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 the upward review of the Medical Residency Training Fund (MRTF), he assured the medics that the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission was working on it.
He also added 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, pointing out that a circular derives its life from extant laws.
According to him, the issue of non-payment of new hazard allowance to house officers is being addressed by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
“There was an inadvertent error in the submission of their list from the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN),’’ he noted.
Ngige assured the workers that the house officers would get their money since they were captured in the payment.
He, however, said the Federal Government could not stop the taxation of the call duty allowance of the doctors since it falls under the Personal Income Tax Act (PITA), to be paid to the states under Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE).
He added that it was usually deducted by IPPIS on behalf of the state where a medical institution is located.
Earlier, Dr Godiya Ishaya, the immediate past President of NARD, while presenting the award, commended the minister for the cooperation.
Ishaya said that they enjoyed, cherished and appreciated the minister’s open-door policy and appealed to him to extend the same to his successor.
Speaking in a similar vein, the new President, Dr Emeka Orji, commended Ngige for his efforts at restoring industrial harmony and peace.
He said that the gesture was more felt in the health sector while urging the minister, as a medical elder of repute, to continue with his good works.
The NARD delegation also commended Ngige for the registration of the National Association of Medical and Dental Academics (NAMDA) as a trade union in the university system.