The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Sunday said the Federal Government will soon engage the leadership of the striking National Association of Resident Doctors in a fresh talk with a view to ending the ongoing strike. He said the purpose of the fresh talk would be for the striking resident doctors to explain to the government team the aspects of the memorandum of action they signed on Thursday which they did not agree with.
Ngige spoke in a telephone interview with our correspondent on Sunday.
Recall that the NARD, an association of doctors undergoing residency training, had on Thursday commenced what it called “a total and indefinite strike” despite government’s last-minute efforts to stop the action.
Shortly before the strike started, the leadership had signed a memorandum of action with the Federal Government team, which made Ngige to describe the strike as being in bad faith.
He had threatened that if the strike continued, the government would look at all labour laws and consider the options available to it, including that which empowered employers to protect their enterprise.
But on Sunday, Ngige insisted that it was not yet time to invoke the no-work-no-pay rule.
The minister said, “We have not reached there (no-work-no-pay option). I said so earlier.
“We are going to have a formal meeting with them so that they will let us know the areas of the memorandum of action they signed that they do not agree with.
“The meeting will hold next week. Immediately work resumes, we will contact them and invite them to the meeting.”
Ngige, however, said there was the need for the strike to end.
He said he would be checking with some offices when work resumed after the Easter break on how far they had gone in paying the outstanding house officers as directed.
“The house officers affected are the ones recruited above the quota and those illegally recruited from January outside the central portal.
“So, we are paying everybody now and the formalisation of the portal. When we resume, we will know where we are but we need to stop the strike.
“You don’t visit people during festivity with strike and punish people who are sick. We are all working round the clock to end the strike,” he added.