Federal government has granted approval for the payment of health workers withheld during the period they were on strike.
This was disclosed by Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, on Thursday while speaking to journalists after a meeting with the President at the State House in Abuja
He noted that the President had directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to effect the payment of the doctors, nurses and other health workers for the period they were on strike in 2018 and 2021.
“Mr. President 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,” he said.
“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 pandemic and that their hazard allowance for 2021 had remained what it was before,” he added.
The national leadership of the Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria (MHWUN) in July had called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to pay the two-month salaries of health workers which the government refused to due to the strike action the workers took in April last year.
The union made their grievances known in Abuja when the Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, visited their national secretariat.
MHWUN National President, Biobelemoye Josiah, had said the “no work, no pay” stance of the government under which their salaries were withheld was a breach.
He said there no justice in the Nigerian government stance because other health workers who embarked on strike in November have not been paid according to reports reaching him.