Nigeria moves to ban doctors’ private practice, implements 'no work, no pay'
The Federal Government on Wednesday resolved to regulate activities of medical doctors and other public health workers, to ensure that they do not engage in private practice while working in the public service.
It has also approved the immediate enforcement of the ‘no work no pay’ law under the Trade Union Act. Section 43 of the Trade Union Act stipulates a ‘no work no pay’ regulation for all workers in the country.
Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, who disclosed this to State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, said the council considered the report of the Yayale Ahmed panel on industrial relations with the view to streamlining private practice by public sector doctors who serve in government hospitals.
Adewole said that an expanded technical committee has been instituted to work out modalities of how health workers can be paid based on their output. He also disclosed that council agreed to peg the minimum years for doctors’ residency practice at seven.
The Health Minister told reporters that FEC took a decision to regulate activities of public health workers, medical doctors in particular, in order to ensure that the public gets value for its money invested in the health sector and not unduly shortchanged by these health workers.
“Council considered an important memo on industrial relations, particularly in the public sector, that report dealt extensively with several issues.
But for us the health sector, the most important is the need to do comprehensive job evaluation, so government has decided to set up a committee that would evaluate what exactly do we do as individuals, how much should we be paid in a way that we can really pay appropriately across board through the entire country.
“Council also looked at the issue of residency training programme and decided that the training should last for a fixed time of seven years. After training for seven years, individuals should exit from the programme so that other people can come into the programme,” Adewole said.
The minister further disclosed that “council has set up a committee to look extensively into that issue because we want to resolve the issue of what does the law of the land states and what the rule of professional ethics says. “The law of the land does not allow any public officer to do anything other than farming.
So, that committee would make appropriate recommendation to government on this important issue which is of considerable interest to quite a number of Nigerians.
“In addition to that, we will also look at the Yayale Ahmed report which tried to look into the relationship between professional groups in the health sector and the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) have been mandated to forward a white paper on the Yayale Ahmed report to the FEC so that once and for all, government can restore harmony to the health sector,” he stressed.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, who also addressed State House Correspondents after FEC, said the decision on the no work, no pay rule, followed the recent spate of strike actions embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) and other trade organisations which almost crippled governance. Ngige explained that the enforcement of the law does not, in any way, violate the provisions of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) which also specified punishment for striking workers, especially those on essential services.
The Labour Minister explained that FEC had earlier directed the SGF to set up a technical committee on industrial relations matters in the federal public service.
He said: “The ‘no work no pay’ is not a rule, neither is it a policy. It is a law captured on Trade Disputes Act of Federation. Section 43 to be precise says that workers have a right to disengage from an employer if there is a breakdown in discussions or negotiation.
“But for the period that the worker does so, the employer should not pay and those periods are to be counted as non-pensionable times in the period of work.
“So council today reemphasised that that law is still in sitting and that it should be brought to the knowledge of workers in the public and private sector, especially those in the public sector,” Ngige noted.
According to Ngige, the series of strikes in recent times were allegedly orchestrated to frustrate the current administration and portray it in bad light. He said recent industrial actions ranging from ASUU, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), and Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), among others, all flouted the constitutional provisions which stated that government must be well notified ahead of any strike.
The Labour Minister noted that part of other regulations which the government was considering is the need for affiliate labour unions to clearly spell out their tenure system and make such document available to the ministry that intercedes whenever there is labour dispute.