Federal Government threatens striking doctors with no work no pay rule.
This was imposed by Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire. He said, “the doctors have no basis for going on strike at this time”.
He also stated that the “no work no pay” rule is recognised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
The Federal Government had previously taken the doctors to the Industrial Court to show reasons why government should continue to pay them while they are on strike.
The doctors said they would not halt the strike and would be back at the Industrial Court on Monday.
Ehanire, speaking at a briefing organised by the Presidential Media Team in Abuja, told the doctors, who started their strike on August 2, that the country is currently facing a virulent third wave of COVID-19 pandemic, and cholera outbreak, which has claimed hundreds of lives and an emerging Marburg virus in neighbouring vicinities.
The minister, who was accompanied to the briefing by heads of three agencies under the Ministry of Health; Professor Mojisola Adeyeye of the National Agency For Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC); and Dr Faisal Shuibu of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The minister stated that most of the demands raised by the striking doctors were under the jurisdiction of state government.
“We have said openly that this is not a good time for doctors to go on strike. We’re having a strike for the third time this year that is not good. We have appealed to them. We have been having long meetings with young doctors to tell them that look we have a certain responsibility to our country.
“Every country in difficult situation at this time should understand that responsibility is on all of us if you have any problem, any grudge 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 what we have advised. There has been no threat. Nobody threatened anything. We are just appealing, all of us are doctors, all of us went through the same residency.
”We’re 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.”
Ehanire declared the ‘no work, no pay’ rule as a standard rule. That’s International Labour Organisation, ILO recommendation that if you did not work, then why will you be paid your salary from taxpayers money. So, if you did not work, why should you be paid? Because if that is so you can be encouraged to stay home for six months and your salary is running from public funds, from tax payers money, when you have not given the community any service.
“So, that no work, no pay is not just the government’s regulation, 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 regulation. Because you can’t go to market and buy something for nothing. You must put down something, you must put down work.
“You cannot 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 its obligations to pay what is agreed.
“But, we cannot go against what the ILO says, pay people that did not go to work. I mean, I think before God and man you can defend that position, but there is no question of threats. These young doctors 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”, he explained.
Concerning the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country, the minister said a lockdown will not be an immediate strategy, citing the extreme effect of lockdowns on the economy and everyday life.
He also assured Nigerians that the new variant does not currently pose the sort of threat that might warrant a lockdown of any form.
He mentioned that, countries around the world have now become circumspect about imposing total lockdowns as it was seen at the onset of the outbreak, adding that administrators would rather employ precision lockdowns on specific areas of the country under threat.
“Now, as for the lockdown, lockdown is a very, very last measure that countries are taking because our lockdown stifles economic activity, restricts your own freedom and your business, both corporate business, government business, private business all are affected. So, it looks like something you do easily.
“Of course, when we were compelled to have that lockdown at the beginning, we learnt a lot of lessons. You know, at that time government provided palliatives to relieve the impacts of it; if you couldn’t go to market, if you couldn’t do your business. But this is not what government is aiming to do, no government wants to do a lockdown.”
Executive Director of the NPHCDA, Dr, Faisal Shuaib, reaffirmed the plan to procure 40 million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19vaccines at the cost of $298.5 million.
He said government had received 176,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines as the first instalment out of the almost 40 million ordered. He said 2.3 per cent of eligible Nigerians have been vaccinated.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, explained that recent delays associated with the application of Moderna vaccines donated by the United States Government was as a result of laboratory testing, where some insignificant quantities had bar-coding errors, which had to be sorted.
She said the agency had been working round the clock to resolve the slight hitches which had nothing to do with the vaccine quality.
She also said in the previous vaccination, 12,000 Nigerians reported mild side effects.
The Director-General of the NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, also noted that the cases of COVID-19 recently sequenced in Nigeria are Delta variant, which he said had made it the dominant variant in the country.