Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire has reminded Residents Doctors now on a nationwide strike of the no-work-no-pay policy of not just the government of Nigeria, but also that of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
Briefing newsmen today, August 12 at the Presidential villa, on the progress made so far in the battle with COVID-19, especially Delta variat Dr. Ehanire regretted that doctors went on strike exactly at the time they were expected to rally round to stave off the dangers posed by various variants of COVID – 19.
As for the policy of no work no pay, the Minister said: “but that’s the standard thing. That’s International Labour Organisation (ILO) recommendation that if you didn’t work, then why will you take your salary. The salary comes from taxpayers money.
“So if you did not work, why should you be paid? Because if that is so you can’t be encouraged to stay home for six months and your salary is running from public funds, from taxpayers money, or you have not given the community any service.
“So that no work, no pay is not just the government regulation, it is recommended. It is specifically stated in International Labour Organisation that if you do not work, if you have not given any service, you can’t expect remuneration.
“Because you can’t go to market and buy something for nothing. You must put down something, you must put down work.
“You can go to market and take goods without paying. So if you work, you will be paid. And we are strongly in support of government meeting it’s obligations to pay what is agreed.
“We have said that we shall push for that, you know, working with the salaries and wages commission, the head of service, we are working to support that, including paying all the insurance dues.
“But we cannot say again what the ILO says, pay people who didn’t go to work. I mean, I think before God and man, you can’t defend that position, but there is no question of threats.
“These young doctors, they are professionals, not just professionals, they are young people who we need to also mentor and treat well, to the best of all our capacity here.
“So, the strike is not what we want now. We would like to again, use this platform to ask doctors to return to work, let us negotiate. We can do that among us. “There are many areas the Ministry of Health supports them.
“But part of the problem we have is that some of the grudges that they have, or let us say the demands are with state governments not the federal government. So if the state government has not paid some people salary why go on nationwide strike.
“We say if you want to talk to that state, which I will support you and appeal to the state.
“Among the 12 original demands that they made, seven were state related. “They are not federal, federal government cannot compel a state to pay you a certain salary that you want.
“But the ones that are concerning us at federal level, many of them are not even exactly the Ministry of Health either.
“But we support them and those with what strike is not a good tool to use. And especially, when the health of the country is threatened. “When people will come out or volunteer in other countries to work.
“That is not the time to withdraw your own service. And I think again, we’ll continue to appeal to young doctors not to use strike as a tool, especially at a time of national need that will not rest welcome your conscience.
“We have said openly that this is not a good time for doctors to go on strike. We are having a strike for the third time this year that is not good. You have appealed to them. They will be having long meetings with young doctors to tell them that look we have a certain responsibility to our country.
“Every country which has difficult situation at this time should understand that responsibilities is on all of us if you have any problem, any grudges let’s talk about it.
“If we can’t solve it now, let’s continue talking about it until we fine solution but don’t drop work.
“I think Nigeria is probably the only country in the world today where doctors are dropping work in the middle of a threat to the whole country.
“So that’s why we have advised. There has been no threat. Nobody threatened anything. Just appeal; all of us are doctors, all of us went through the same residency. We are saying this is not the time let’s continue to talk about it.
“Do not put people’s lives at risk. That’s what the Minister of Labour has been saying, that is what the Minister of Health has been saying. Nobody has threatened anybody with anything.”