Abuja — The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige has warned the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) to steer clear of negotiations between government and the striking Joint Health Sector Unions (JOHESU).
The Minister, who spoke in Abuja, noted that in trade unionism, such meddlesomeness arising from an unhealthy inter-union rivalry would adversely put pressure on social dialogue mechanism, clog the wheel of progress and retard the return of industrial harmony in the entire health sector.He admonished NMA to desist from further interference in any form in the on-going negotiation as well as stop issuing threats to the Federal Government as it is firmly resolved to achieve a lasting industrial peace in all sectors without prejudice to perceived group interests.
The Minister urged JOHESU to call off its strike as the CONHESS table that corresponds with the 2014 CONMESS adjustment with the Medical Doctors has been appropriately addressed by the National Salary Income and Wages Commission and given as an offer in the spirit of equity.Meanwhile, the Citizens' Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) has lauded the recent order of the National Industrial Court which has directed members of the Joint Health Staff Union (JOHESU) to call off their strike immediately within a period of 24 hours.
CASER asked the Federal Government not to make the mistakes of past administrations that were obviously weak willed and often intimidated by unpatriotic trade unionists who had the penchant of embarking on anti-people strike actions, withdrawing essential services such as health, education and, still expected to be paid full salaries for the period that they did not work.
The group cited Section 42(a) of the Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, which provides that: Where any worker takes part in a strike, he shall not be entitled to any wages or other remuneration for the period of the strike and any such period shall not count for the purpose of reckoning the period of continuous employment and all rights dependent on continuity of employment shall be prejudicial affected accordingly".
It said it becomes the sacred duty and responsibility of the Federal Government to ensure that the above provision is enforced against the members of JOHESU for embarking on an illegal and ill-fated strike action.It added: "The government must desist from making strike actions to be so attractive to Nigerian workers as a means of resolving trade disputes. Nothing can be more irresponsible for public servants to rush to engage in a strike action and expect to be paid full salaries for the period that they did not work. No country can make progress with such an irresponsible mentality.
"This administration must not be tempted to be politically correct by failing to implement the above cited provision of the law just because an election year is approaching.
Government must implement the law dispassionately and in the interest of the people. It is better for the government to work and be on the side of the people than for it to try to placate self-serving public servants that constitute an insignificant minority of the Nigerian population. "Thus, where members of JOHESU fail to obey the recent Order of the National Industrial Court, the government in the interest of the people, should be prepared to legally sack the striking members of JOHESU and immediately replace them with other skilled and willing Nigerians."