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Doctors’ strike is in bad faith – Ngige



The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has described the decision of resident doctors to embark on a nationwide strike as an action taken in bad faith.

On Thursday, the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) ordered its members across the country to go on indefinite strike hours after its executives signed an agreement with the federal government. The strike hit tertiary hospitals in the country hard as they were overwhelmed by a large number of patients, many of whom were not attended to.

WuzupNigeria reports that although the health institutions deployed consultants in attending to patients, the specialists could not cope with the number of patients who thronged the hospitals. In some hospitals, where consultants could not cope with the heavy workload, patients, whose cases were not emergencies, were turned back.

Reacting to the doctors’ action, the FG expressed anger and threatened it t would decide the fate of the doctors if they refused to call off the strike before the weekend.

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Ngige, who had on Thursday morning briefed journalist on the outcome of Wednesday’s meeting between the FG and NARD representatives and the agreement, was left fuming by the doctors’ actions.

According to the Punch, Ngige threatened that if the resident doctors remained adamant by the weekend, the government would decide their fate.

He stated that the doctors acted in bad faith by proceeding on their strike action after the agreement they signed.

Nigige said the government was surprised that the resident doctors could still proceed on their strike after agreements were reached on all their demands

He said, “You should be asking them (the resident doctors) what went wrong. They signed an agreement that we had with them. It is called a memorandum for action.

“We took all the items one-by-one and had an agreement on each item and we agreed to reconvene in the next four weeks to know the degree and level of implementation.

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“We agreed on everything. There is no point we did not agree on. Get a copy of the agreement and see what I am talking about.”

The minister said at the close of the meeting when the agreement was signed, the representatives of the NARD gave him the impression that they were still meeting on the agreement.

He added, “It (the strike) is in bad faith which I am ready to concede to them that they don’t know the implication of what they have done in labour parlance.

“They have come for conciliation. Their trade dispute has been apprehended. Agreements have been reached and they reneged on the agreements. How the thing works is that if you don’t agree on anything, then you don’t sign an agreement”

When one of our correspondents asked if the government would be considering no-work-no-pay, the minister said it had not reached that stage.

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He however said a decision would be taken by weekend if the strike continues.

He explained, “We have not reached that (no-work-no-pay) stage yet. People’s lives are involved. Their own is not the same with teachers in universities who can claim that they will teach day and night to cover lost grounds.

“This one is that if you don’t treat a patient, the patient dies and you can’t bring the person back to life. If by this weekend, they are still pressing on with their strike, we will look at all the labour laws and the options available to government including but not limited to enterprise; the employers trying to protect their enterprise and the lives of their patients.”

When asked to explain how that would play out, the minister said, “It is the Ministry of Health which is their primary employer that will bring that out. I am not their primary employer.”