Nigeria’s labour and employment minister Chris Ngige on Friday stated that it will not hesitate to ‘invoke’ some labour laws on the doctors.
“By Tuesday, I will invite them back. If they become recalcitrant, there are other things I can do. There are weapons in the Labour Laws, I will invoke them. There is no work, no pay,” Ngige said during a Channels Television programme Politics Today.
“Their employers have a role also to keep their business afloat, to keep patients alive. They can employ local doctors. We won’t get there but if we are going to get there, we will use that stick.”
Nigeria’s National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) on Thursday began an indefinite strike to protest alleged failure of the government to fulfil its obligations to them.
The doctors said the government refused to address issues on salary arrears and owed allowances among other matters raised in an earlier ultimatum issued in January.
NARD representatives met with the Federal Government’s team on Wednesday over their grievances and rejected the proposals put forward by the government on how to make up for the shortcomings in the implementation of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between both parties.
Minister of state for health Olorunnimbe Mamora appealled to the doctors to be patient with the government while it works to meet their demands.
Speaking on one of the demands of the doctors, Ngige said the current hazard allowance of ₦5,000 for doctors was fixed in 1992.
The labour minister noted that the Federal Government would review the amount after five weeks but did not disclose the proposed figure.
“I raised it (issue of hazard allowance) with the Finance Minister and the Vice President in the Economic Sustainability Meeting. In fact, to use the words of the Vice President, he said it is criminal, that it shouldn’t happen,” Ngige said.
He explained that the yet to be disclosed hazard allowance “is in the Memorandum of Action that we signed. Immediately after the Easter break, I will convene a meeting to look at it holistically.”
Mamora on Thursday said, “the present-day government will continue to do its best in the provision of adequate healthcare infrastructure and personnel.”