Release seized doctors, health workers wages, Buhari orders Finance Minister - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Thursday, December 16, 2021

Release seized doctors, health workers wages, Buhari orders Finance Minister

By Our Correspondent

President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, to release the salaries of doctors and other health workers that were seized to enforce the 'no-work-no-pay policy'. 

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential villa. 

The Minister, who is the Concilliator-in-Chief of the Federal Government said President Buhari approved the authority letter to release the funds of the resident doctors for September and October 2021. 

He said the approval covers members of the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU) who went on strike in 2018. 

He explained that the approval for the releases of the seized salaries was on compassionate ground and to encourage them to do well especially as the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging. 

Ngige further said that the President has also directed relevant agencies to conclude the discussions on the other allowances for the health workers to enable them to enjoy them. 

According to him, “The President graciously approved that we pay back some funds, some wages, which we did not pay health workers. 

“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, we’re 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 

“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. 

“This is predicated on the grounds that this group of workers has 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're not yet free of Covid-19 and the new mutants, we need to do everything to keep the health 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 (Friday), we’re convening a meeting of Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages, where we'll ratify the new pay hazard structure for health workers.”

The minister noted that efforts must be made to ensure industrial harmony in the country to allow all sectors to operate well.

He said, “You know that my mandates, Labour, industrial disputes is one of the major pillars of what we are doing, and the national milieu is always boiling and we try as much as possible to make it calm so that we can have productivity of work in all the other areas. 

“If we allow industrial disputes all over, there’ll be no road construction, there'll be no building, there’ll be no agriculture, there will be no services in the hospitals, none in the educational sector.”

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