From Adanna Nnamani, Abuja
The federal government has reprimanded Human Rights Lawyer and Acting Chairman of the civil society coalition, Alliance for Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB) Mr. Femi Falana for encouraging members of the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to continue their strike despite the ruling of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria suspending the action.
According to statement issued by the media team of Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige’s on Thursday, the attention of the Minister had been drawn to various media reports in which Mr. Falana advised striking NARD doctors to ignore the National Industrial Court order for all parties (Federal Ministry of Health/FG and NARD), in the dispute before it, to suspend all hostilities forthwith, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice, with the matter accordingly adjourned to September 15, 2021 for hearing of the motion on notice and any other pending application.
The Minister criticized Falana for what he described as “offering a very different interpretation of the court order.” He pointed out that Falana never represented any of the parties when the case was first mentioned on August 16, 2021 and wondered what he stood to gain by using his position to “misadvise” young doctors in specialist training, to continue to ignore or disobey an order of court of competent jurisdiction to stop their strike.
Ngige said that in industrial dispute parlance, strike by an employee is a major form of “hostility” against the employer, in this case, the Federal Ministry of Health/Federal Government as well as the sick in various hospitals across the nation.
“For the avoidance of doubt, hostility in labour relations in this particular parlance connotes strike or picketing by the affected employees (Resident doctors) or their employers who can equally use the opportunity to resort to the termination of their employment or recruit new doctors as allowed by the ILO Principles on Strike for essential service workers ( lockout of the striking doctors from their hospitals and loss of employment).”
While noting that Falana is not an expert in Labour /industrial law , the Minister advised him to concentrate on the areas of law that he is very conversant with and offer pieces of unsolicited advice to both parties as a Mr. Know-all.
According to Ngige, Mr. Falana is not familiar with what the federal government has bent backward to do for the resident doctors to enhance the quality of their training, starting from putting them on a golden scheme of service (CONMESS) within the period of training as a pensionable career and the enactment of the Medical Residency Training Act(MRTA) 2017, including a special Medical Residency Training Fund(MRTF) put in place by this government to enhance the quality of specialist training .
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