President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the payment of backlog salaries of medical doctors and other health workers which were withheld under the policy of no-work-no-pay during their strike actions, from 2018.
Speaking to newsmen today, December 16 after a private audience with the President, the Minister of labour and employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, said that the presidential directive was on compassionate ground.
“First, section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act says that when a worker goes on strike, especially those on essential services, the employer can also refuse to pay. That is what they call the ‘No Work, No Pay Rule’.
“But, these health sector workers; doctors, pharmacists, nurses and members of JOHESU, were trying to make sure that we create an equitable environment for them to function and part of it is to make sure that their welfare is taken care of.
“As a first step, Mr. President has approved last week and I have the authority and letter, directing the Minister of Finance to release the funds of the resident doctors for September and October 2021, which was seized in conformity with the law.
“In the same vein, the approval also covers members of the JOHESU who went on strike in 2018 for three months. “After the first month, after March, when they couldn’t come back, we asked that their pay be suspended. This is in tandem with the ILO principles at work. “You have a right to strike, but the employer has a right to stop your remuneration and if possible, use it to keep his enterprise going by taking new hands, where possible, especially in essential services.
“So that same money for 2018 April and May, Mr. President has again approved that the Finance Minister refunds or re-imburse, on compassionate grounds, those payments.”
Dr. Ngige said that the President’s action is predicated on the grounds that these group of workers have been showing a lot of dedication and concern to the COVID and that their Hazard Allowance for 2021 had remained what it was before.
“So, on compassionate grounds and, we agreed that they should be getting this money to keep their moral high.
“We are not yet free of COVID-19 and the new mutants, we need to do everything to keep the hard workers here, happy.
“In the same vein, he has also directed us to conclude the discussions on the other allowance for the health workers so that they can enjoy it anytime from now.
“So, tomorrow, we are convening a meeting of Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages, where we will ratify the new pay hazard structure for health workers.”