Ngige Threatens To Replace Striking Resident Doctors

 

The Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, has threatened to replace striking resident doctors if they refuse to return to work by Monday.

According to Ngige who was a guest on Channels Television’s Politics Today on Friday, an employer has a right to replace an employee who abandons their duties, especially as it pertains to essential services.

“He will also withdraw your money and use it to pay those he has acquired during the period you were away,” he said.

“If you go to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principles at work, it guarantees a worker the right to strike but it has consequences”.

The minister had earlier stated that he had invoked Section 43 of the Labour Act which states, in part, that for the period a worker withdraws his services, the government or his employers are not entitled to pay.

As essential workers, he also maintained that they are not expected to go on strike without notifying him at least 15 days prior.

Read Also: Healthcare In Nigeria Is ‘Fairly Okay’ – Ngige

While the doctors continue to call on the government to fully take up its responsibilities, the Federal Government has insisted that most of the issues they have raised are state affairs.

Minister of Health Dr Osagie Ehanire had told journalists in Abuja on Thursday that seven of 12 matters that were raised by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), were the responsibility of state governments.

Consequently, he said they were expected to resume work on Friday and take up the issues with the state governments rather than embark on the nationwide strike as they had done.

The Labour Minister has, however, vowed to escalate the matter, should they fail to resume work by Monday, the expiration of the 1-week ultimatum he gave them.

“Next week, I will escalate it because the conciliation has failed and the law says that if conciliation fails on my own side, I can move it up.

“Avoiding the use of the word ‘sack’, Ngige said; there are other things that are permitted by law. I will invoke other things.

“Their employer has a right to replace them. It doesn’t matter what you want to term it. We can use Locum doctors or medical officers,” he said.

The strike, according to the aggrieved doctors is, however, expected to be indefinite.

Read Also: Why I Won’t Meet With Striking Resident Doctors – Labour Minister

NASU, SSANU Meet With Labour Minister Over Imminent Strike

NASU, SSANU meet with the Minister of Labour.

 

The Federal Government is currently meeting with members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, (NASU) and the Senior Staff Association of Universities (SSANU) over the strike declared by the unions a week ago.

Present at the meeting which is holding in Abuja is the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, the SSANU President, Mohammed Ibrahim; the spokesperson of the joint action committee of SSANU and NASU, Peters Adeyemi; among others.

The strike was declared on Friday by the joint action Committee of SSANU and NASU following their disagreement with the sharing formula of the N40 billion earned allowances which the Federal Government disbursed to the universities.

The non-teaching staff of the universities accused the government of giving priority to the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).

The declared strike is expected to commence on Friday, February 5, even as the non-academic staff are demanding that their members be taken off the government’s Integrated Personnel Payroll Information (IPPIS).

They are also asking for a review of the sharing formula for the universities earned allowances between the teaching and non-teaching staff.

“The joint action committee of SSANU and NASU hereby resolves as follows: That members of NASU/SSANU shall embark on an indefinite, comprehensive and total strike with effect from February 5, 2021,” Adeyemi, said last Friday.

“Two weeks’ notice effective from today, Friday, January 22, 2021, is hereby given to the government and relevant stakeholders of this development.

“The October 2020 memorandum of understanding (MOU) resolved that the compliance of SSANU/NASU with respect to IPPIS would be corrected within two weeks.

“But three months after, there has been no correction of these anomalies leading to a high level of restiveness among our members who have been short-changed on account of the problem caused by IPPIS.”

FG Has Empowered More People In Last Three Years, Says Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige on Tuesday said the Federal Government has tried its best to create jobs for Nigeria’s teeming unemployed youths.

This he said has been achieved through the various intervention programs of Federal Government in the last three years.

Ngige told journalists in Abuja on Tuesday that the Federal Government through its interventions in the agriculture sector alone, has empowered over eight million individuals in the last three years.

READ ALSO: Change Is Taking Place But There Is A Long Way To Go – Utomi

However, records from the national bureau of statistics reveals that four million Nigerians lost their jobs during the last quarter of 2017.

On the issues of the ongoing new minimum wage review, the Minister argues that the capacity of government to pay the various proposals from states and labour unions, which  ranges from N20,000 to N50,000 will largely be determine by revenue inflows.

Resident Doctors’ Strike Ethically Wrong, Not Acceptable – S.A Labour Minister

Clara Dike

The Special Technical Adviser to Minister of Labour and Employment, Clara Dike, has said that the current industrial action embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) is morally unacceptable and ethically wrong.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television breakfast programme Sunrise Daily, she expressed concern about the damaging effect of the industrial action by the doctors, noting that the medical profession is an essential profession involving lives of people.

“Their profession is an essential service profession. They cannot take this kind of action based upon what they think, feel or perceive the government may do or may not do. We signed terms of settlement. Their profession is among the essential services listed in our heart.”

The resident doctors had earlier issued a 21-day ultimatum to notify the Federal Government before they finally resolved to proceed on the industrial action but the Special Adviser to the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige emphasised that the action by the doctors came as a huge surprise to the Federal Government.

She said the doctors reneged on the agreement reached after series of meeting held with them, chaired by the Minister of Labour.

“The first meeting was held on the 14th of August and they agreed on 10 points and how to go about resolving their issues. When we now received another letter on the 27th of August, we called them again on the 31st of August and held this extensive meeting with the Minister as the conciliator.

“It was quite a long meeting and we dealt with all the 6-point issues they brought and reached conclusion on them.

“We admitted almost everything they asked for, considering the fact that they are in essential services. Any strike by medical doctors is morally unacceptable and ethically not allowable based on their Hippocratic oath and other biomedical principles.”

When pointed out that the Hippocratic oath according to the doctors has a clause that says provided everything they need to work is provided for them, she said the doctors need to focus on the effects of their actions and the lives of people involved but not focus on the exception clause in their Hippocratic oath.

“They need to provide these health services to people in need. Maybe one doctor is absent in one hospital, we don’t know how many deaths that will lead to. The exception clause in the Hippocratic oath is not what we are talking about, we are talking about the main substance of that oath.

“So, we agreed to all their demands, not minding that section 18 of our Trade Dispute Act, that is the Labour Act, provides that once we start conciliating there shall be no strike and there shall be no lock out. Not minding all that, we are still engaging them.

“We have scheduled a meeting for Wednesday by 12noon.” she added.

FG Appeals To ASUU To Call Off Strike

The Federal Government has asked the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to suspend its ongoing industrial action, in the interest of the nation.

Minister of Labour And Productivity Dr. Chris Ngige made the appeal in a statement signed by the Deputy Director, Press in the ministry, Samuel Olowookere.

According to Dr. Ngige, ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action as it did not give the Federal Government the mandatory 15 days notice before embarking on strike.

He, however, appealed to the striking lecturers to return to the negotiation table, as all the necessary steps for a fruitful dialogue had been put in place.

“The Federal Government, therefore, wishes to appeal to ASUU to consider students who are currently writing degree and promotion examinations. Please call off the strike and return to the negotiation table.

“The Federal Government has set up the Babalakin committee on 13th Feb. 2017, which is already addressing the issues raised by ASUU.

“Though the Federal Government did not wish to apportion blame, it is important to note that ASUU did not follow due process in the declaration of the industrial action.

“As it did not give the Federal Government, the mandatory 15 days’ notice as contained in the section 41 of trade disputes act, cap T8, 2004.

“In fact, it was on 14th Aug, 2017 that the office of the minister received a letter dated 13th Aug. 2017 from ASUU, that is, one full day after it commenced the strike.”

He stated that since the case was being conciliated, it was against the spirit of social dialogue and collective bargaining agreement (CBA) for ASUU to embark on strike as enunciated in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) convention.

Furthermore, Ngige noted that there was an ongoing renegotiation of the 2009 agreement between the government and ASUU. He therefore gave an assurance that his ministry would put a time frame to negotiations this time around.

ASUU had on Monday declared an indefinite strike over the government’s failure to keep to the 2009 agreement.

Ngige Visits Calabar Garment Factory, Expresses Satisfaction

NgigeNigerian Governors have been asked to replicate the style and zeal of the Cross River State Government by creating employment opportunities for its unemployed citizens.

The Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige made the call while in Calabar the State Capital, for an official engagement which saw him to the governor’s office, flagging off of the School -To-Work Scheme of the NDE as well as an inspection of the garment factory.

The Labour boss was amazed at the size and sophistication of the Calabar Garment Factory which is estimated to employ about 3,000 people.


The garment factory is situated along the Goodluck Jonathan bye-pass in Calabar Metropolis with the aim of boosting direct and indirect channels for diversification of the economy which is said to be the biggest in Africa.

The factory is expected be fully automated and will employ about 3’000 people, with 80 per cent of them being women.

The Labour boss commended on the Governor’s economic wizardry on his efforts, he said his ministry would partner the state government on the garment factory and also see that the factory was used as an apprenticeship centre for skills trainees.

Gov. Ayade further disclosed that, upon completion of the project, it will have a multiplier effect and impact tremendously on the state and citizenry.

Minister Decries Unfair Labour Practices In Banks

Chris Ngige, Labour Minister, NLC StrikeThe Ministry of Labour is to design a framework which would regulate contract staffing in banks and financial institutions in the country.

The Minister of LAbour, Dr Chris Ngige, who disclosed this plan at a meeting with bank executives in Abuja, said this has become necessary because of the abuse of contract staffing in banks across the country.

At the meeting, which was held to address the recent sacking of bank employees across the country, Dr Ngige condemned the “unfair labour practices by banks”.

He said over the years, banks in Nigeria have subjected their employees to shoddy working conditions, unregulated hours of work, refusal of staff to unionize as well as non-implementation of exit packages and forced resignation.

FG To Train 500, 000 Youths On Agriculture, Skill Acquisition

Chris Ngige, Labour Minister, NLC StrikeThe Federal Government on Sunday said it will be training 500, 000 youths on agriculture and skill acquisition in a bid to provide food security.

The Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige,  this is coming as the campaign for the diversification of the nigerian economy is getting stronger and as many believe that the nation is presently in a state of economic recession owing to a decline in crude oil exports.

Corroborating this statement, the President, Fisheries Society of Nigeria, Dr Olajide Ayinla, announced that the society is partnering with the government to improve the sector by inserting fishery into the school curriculum to enhance the knowledge among young people and create jobs.

Experts say Nigeria spends about $11 billion on the importation of wheat, rice, sugar and fish alone, based on this, the fishery society is collaborating with the government to encourage more local production.

PENGASSAN Strike Continues As Discussions Hold With Ministers

Oil Workers, PENGASSAN, NUPENGThe President of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria – PENGASSAN, Mr Francis Johnson says the union’s ongoing strike continues until all issues raised before the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and that of Labour are fully addressed.

Mr Johnson told journalists after a closed-door meeting at the NNPC headquarters in Abuja that the decision on whether or not to suspend the strike would be made by the national executive council of the union.

Although the key issue of redundancy in the sector is yet to be addressed at a separate meeting Tuesday with the Minister of Labour and international oil companies, presidents of both PENGASSAN and NUPENG say discussions so far have been satisfactory.

The dialogue which held at the NNPC headquarters had in attendance the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dr Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of Labour, Dr Chris Ngige, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Ita Enang, the Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti Baru, and leaders of PENGASSAN and NUPENG.

One of the issues discussed is the implementation of the 2015 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the federal government and the unions.

Also tabled for discussion were the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the state under which the oil workers operate, especially with regard to lack of power and bad roads.

Before the meeting went into closed-door, Dr. Kachikwu gave the assurance that the meeting would resolve the issues amicably.

The PENGASSAN had last week declared an industrial action over the dispute, while NUPENG postponed its action pending the outcome of this meeting.

Judiciary Workers Call Off Strike

courtThree weeks ago, the judiciary workers commenced an industrial action which effectively paralyzed activities in the state courts across the country.

Across the country, the workers stayed away and the courts remained under lock and key.

Their grouse was the refusal of the state governments to implement an order of the Federal High Court, Abuja, delivered on January 13 and which directed them to ensure that all allocations meant for the state judiciary should be paid directly to the heads of state courts.

With all the complaints trailing this industrial action, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chief Emeka Wogu, intervened and at a meeting that lasted several hours on Friday, a truce was reached after a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, was signed between the Minister and the leadership of the Union in Abuja.

The MoU states that all governments are obliged to respect the provision of the 1999 Constitution as amended and comply with the judgment of the court.

The agreement also indicates that the demands of the judiciary workers union would be met within the next 45 working days.

With this development, the courts across the country would now resume work on Monday, August 4, with the caveat that no Judiciary Staff Union member would be victimized as a result of participating in the strike.

ASUP/COEASU Protest: Police Disperse Protesting Lecturers

PoliceThe Nigeria Police on Tuesday dislodged members of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union who embarked on a peaceful protest in Abuja to press home their demand.

The lecturers, who gathered in front of the federal secretariat, were dispersed by gun-wielding policemen who later fired teargas at them for defying their instruction not to move beyond the premises of the federal secretariat.

The Minister of Labour, Mr Emeka Wogu, who addressed the lecturers before they were dispersed, promised to address the issues raised by the lecturers who have been on strike for ten months.

At a joint news conference in Abuja on Sunday, the unions had insisted that they will hold the protest on Tuesday.

The National President of the ASUP, Dr Chibuzor Asomugha and the Abuja chapter chairman of COEASU, Dr Ahymed Lawal, criticised the Federal Government’s refusal to implement agreements reached with the unions in order to suspend the indefinite strike.

They had appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to among other demands, address issues of funding, infrastructural development, dichotomy between polytechnic and university graduates and the harmonisation of working conditions for all lecturers in tertiary institutions.

They have been pushing this demands since April last year.

The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, had in a meeting in February with the union, accused it of thwarting government’s efforts at resolving the strike.

The government later set up another committee, headed by the Minister of Labour, Mr Emeka Wogu, and was yet to convince the striking lecturers.

ASUP had in April 22, 2013 embarked on a seven-day warning strike to push their demands and since then, they have refused to call-off the strike until pending issues had been resolved.

ASUP, COEASU Plans Protest On Tuesday 

Poly-Students-ProtestThere appears to be no end in sight for students of polytechnics and colleges of education to return to school as the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) and Colleges of Education Academic Staff Union (COEASU) announced plans to embark on a peaceful protest in Abuja on Tuesday.

At a joint news conference in Abuja on Sunday, the National President of the ASUP, Dr Chibuzor Asomugha and the Abuja chapter chairman of COEASU, Dr Ahymed Lawal, criticised the Federal Government’s refusal to implement agreements reached with the unions in order to suspend the indefinite strike.

The unions appealed to well-meaning Nigerians to prevail on the Federal Government to among other demands, address issues of funding, infrastructural development, dichotomy between polytechnic and university graduates and the harmonisation of working conditions for all lecturers in tertiary institutions.

They have been pushing this demands since April last year.

The Supervising Minister of Education, Nyesom Wike, had in a meeting in February with the union, accused it of thwarting government’s efforts at resolving the strike.

The government later set up another committee, headed by the Minister of Labour, Mr Emeka Wogu, and was yet to convince the striking lecturers.

ASUP had in April 22, 2013 embarked on a seven-day warning strike to push their demands and since then, they have refused to call-off the strike until pending issues had been resolved.