Lagos doctors insist on outstanding pay

*As Fashola explains ‘no work, no pay’ policy

DOCTORS in Lagos public hospitals have insisted that all outstanding pay owed by the state government must be paid, otherwise a fresh industrial action might be in the offing.

  The doctors, who ended a three-day warning strike last Friday, said the state government was yet to address the salary issue.

  The outstanding in question were for period during which the doctors went on strike in 2012 and 2014. The government withheld the salary citing a ‘no work, no pay’ policy.

  Governor Babatunde Fashola (SAN), at a recent interactive session with reporters, said the ‘no work, no pay’ policy was consistent with labour laws, which also frowns at what is often called “sympathy strike” among the professionals.

  Secretary of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Lagos, Dr. Babatunde Saidi told The Guardian that the three-day warning strike was to make yet another case to the government, after which they would consider other options to get their dues.

  Saidi said the Lagos NMA congress would hold in a matter of days to decided the next line of action, which might be another avoidable and unnecessary strike action in the heath system. 

  It would be recalled that the doctors had in a letter dated December 30, 2014 gave a 21-day ultimatum to the government to pay four months salary arrears. Requested were payment for the months of April and May 2012, as well as August and September 2014 salaries during which the doctors had embarked on strike.

  Reacting to the issues, Fashola noted that strike actions were legitimate choices under the labour law but they must be based on proper understanding of what the law calls  labour disputes. 

  He said a trade dispute is one between the employer and the employee as at the time and condition of his service.

  “A trade dispute is not when a body just tells the members to go on strike because they are angry. That is not a trade dispute. So you cannot go on such strike because the law does not understand what you call sympathy strike. 

  “The same labour law that recognizes trade dispute and strike says if you go on strike, you’d not be paid. The law makes that very clear. So, it is not a government policy, it is the law of Nigeria. It is in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. 

  “That is why when strikes or disputes legitimately arise, we have resolved them before it happens. Because the employer can see that these people have not been paid. But when they are on the basis of personal disagreements, it is difficult to just bridge it. The law also provide for arbitration,” he said.

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