Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, has formally handed over the trade dispute between the federal government and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication.
The Doctors Association and the Federal Ministry of Health were informed about the development on Thursday.
Ngige had earlier given the aggrieved medical workers till the close of work on Wednesday to convene a virtual meeting of its National Executive Committee, brief its members on the efforts of federal government with a view to calling off its strike.
The minister, on Thursday, sent a formal notification showing the court received his move, to NARD and the Federal Ministry of Health representing the Federal Government.
The instrument signed by the labour minister read, “Whereas, trade dispute has arisen and now exists between the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors and the Federal Ministry of Health/Federal Government and whereas, efforts to promote settlement through conciliation were on-going but had now failed.
“And considering the facts that members of NARD, who are classified as essential services workers/employees had embarked on strike on Monday, August 2, 2021, over the issues under conciliation, contrary to the provisions of section 18 of the Trade Disputes Act CAP T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN) 2004, after attending a Conciliation and Agreement Review meeting on July 22, 2021, and further considering that the Federal Ministry of Health claims to have and produced evidence to have met most of their demands based on the various Memorandum of Action reached during past conciliations especially that of July 22, 2021.
“Now, therefore, I, Senator Dr Chris Nwabueze Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Employment, in the exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 17 of the Trades Disputes Act, CAP T8 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, hereby refer the matter for consideration, and the issues in dispute to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria for adjudication.”
Ngige, who spoke during the weekly press briefing with State House correspondents in Abuja on Thursday, said the resident doctors were very wicked for deciding to go on strike during the third wave of COVID-19.
He also threatened that the federal government would enforce “no-work, no-pay” if the doctors continue with the strike.
Dr Uyilawa Okhuaihesuyi, the NARD President also said government officials were also wicked for not meeting their demands.
He said, “They are also wicked for not honouring our demands; we issued several ultimatums. These issues are not new issues but they have decided not to meet our demands.”
Speaking on the minister’s threat of enforcing the no-work-no-pay policy, Okhuaihesuyi said, “They can keep their money. We are also meeting with our lawyers as regards the notice we got from the National Industrial Court.
“We will decide whether to honour the court notice or not after adequate deliberations with our lawyers.”