[wysija_form id=”1″]March 16, 2015 – The Lagos State Government has described the current strike embarked upon by Medical Guild in the state to press home demands for payment of outstanding four months salaries as illegal.
According to the guild, Lagos owes them salary arrears of May 2012 and July, August and September salary of 2014.
But in a statement, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba said the current action is illegal.
“On previous occasion, the doctors went on what they called a “sympathy strike” at the request of their professional association, the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) which then had a dispute with the Federal Government.
“They had no trade dispute with the State Government (their employer)”, he said adding that doctors in private employment, who are also members of the NMA, did not join the so-called ‘sympathy strike’.
According to him, it is fact that those health workers who did not work during the stated period were not paid.
“This “no work no pay rule” is not just a policy of the State Government as alleged. It is in line with international employment practices and the Trade Disputes Act, a federal legislation, which is binding on all authorities and persons in Nigeria. For the avoidance of doubt, section 43(1)(a) of the Trade Disputes Act provides that:
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law, 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 prejudicially affected accordingly,” he said.
The commissioner added that apart from the demands of law, the law also accords with common sense.
“It is noteworthy that the State Government pays salaries using taxpayers’ money. Using funds contributed by taxpayers to pay persons who deprived the same taxpayers of care and caused them untold suffering and death is not only in contravention of law, it further goes against the dictates of good conscience”, he said adding that the strike took place when Ebola Virus Disease hit Lagos.
“It was foreign doctors and volunteers, that came to our aid to start the process of combating the virus in a commendable humanitarian gesture. It was therefore imperative that allowances be paid to them, rather than to doctors who chose to keep off their duty post during a period of such national health emergency despite several entreaties made to them”, he said.
He said it is not true that representatives of the governor have refused to meet with the doctors over this dispute.
“ The Governor did in fact meet with their leadership and that had been followed by several meetings with the Commissioner for Health, Commissioner for Special Duties and other state officials in relevant administrative positions right up to the last weekend.
“It is therefore clear that conformity with a national law cannot form the basis of yet another strike”, he said and advised the doctors to resume their respective duty positions while discussions with the State Government are ongoing.
He said government is committed to the continuance of health services to its teeming masses and will do all in its power to ensure that public health institutions continue to function and that it will protect health workers who are willing to work.