The Federal Government has mandated all chief medical directors in teaching hospitals across the country to open attendance registers with a view to stopping salaries of doctors taking part in the strike called by the National Association of Resident Doctors.
This is according to a PUNCH report citing a senior health official and the President of NARD, Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi
“Government is determined to implement the no-work-no-pay order. As from tomorrow, attendance registers will be opened in all hospitals. Everybody will be paid based on attendance.”the health official said according to the PUNCH.
The Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, on Friday, had said that he had invoked Section 43 of the Labour Law which states, in part, that for the period a worker withdraws his services, the government or his employers are not entitled to pay.
Reacting to the threat from the Federal Government, Okhuaihesuyi, yesterday told reporters : “They have not invited us for any kind of meeting, neither have they met our demands. Rather, we are getting threats of no work no pay. We can see which party is sincere to resolve the issue.”
NARD is the militant body of all medical doctors in the country and there are about 16,000 resident doctors working in Nigeria out of over 40,000 medical doctors.
NARD had last Monday began a nationwide industrial action over unpaid salaries, benefits to families of members that lost their lives to COVID-19 pandemic and hazard allowances, improved conditions, and failure to domesticate Medical Residency Training (MRT) Act 2017 in states, among others.
Less than four months ago, between April 1 and 10, they were also on strike over the same issues and the strike was called off following a memorandum of understanding signed by the Federal Government and the leadership of NARD.
Okhuaihesuyi stated further: “There is no going back on plans to shut down public and government hospitals due to inability of the Federal Government to keep to its promise to the doctors in meeting their demands.
“Even if they communicate to us now, there is no going back. It is now over 120 days after we signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and Memorandum of Agreement (MoA). They should be ashamed for not being truthful. We cannot be working and not get paid. You make commitments with doctors and you don’t keep them,” he said.
Whilst confirming the directive to open attendance registers, the NARD President asserted that Resident Doctors will not allow themselves to be bullied by a no-work-no-pay threat.
“We are aware that they are going to bring down registers tomorrow. We are aware that they have spoken to chief medical directors on that. We are aware they have sent a circular on no- work, no- pay to all teaching hospitals.
“We are not aware if they have answered our ultimatum. What have they done in trying to convince the younger ones to go back to work when they have not answered our Memorandum of Action which was signed on March 29 and April 9? So, these are the big questions.
“You are in government and you want to discipline a child, you beat the child but you still hold the mouth of the child to prevent him from crying out. You had 116 days since you signed a Memorandum of Action which was time-bound and you had six weeks but as of tomorrow it will be 117 days and you have not done anything. Will you bully your child that you have not paid for months and still want to impose a no- work, no-pay policy?
“He (Ngige) has already written to the chief medical directors of hospitals and we are aware they are invoking the no-work- no- pay policy already, but we are not resuming yet,” Okhuaihesuyi said according to a PUNCH report.
On the negative effect the strike is having on ‘common’ Nigerians, he said: “The doctors are also human beings. Abia State owes doctors 19 months salary; Imo State eight and Ekiti two months. Those doctors who lost their lives have not got their insurance benefits and most of us are yet to get the paltry hazard allowance of N5,000. You bring out circulars that you are going to pay and yet you don’t. What will the doctor tell his or her landlord?
“We go to the same market with ‘common’ Nigerians and our children attend the same schools. How can we survive in the midst of this gross negligence on the part of government? If you were a medical doctor, would you be working in Nigeria? Little wonder more graduating doctors are leaving the country in droves. No wonder more Nigerians are seeking medical treatments abroad because they don’t trust the medical system in the country.”