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PGF DG slams labour, health ministers over incessant health sector strikes

The Director General of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF), Salihu Lukman has slammed the Minister of Labour and Productivity, Senator Chris Ngige and his counterpart in the Health sector, Osagie Ehanire over the incessant strikes in the health sector.

In the statement decrying the recent strike of the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) Sunday, Lukman said: “It is quite frustrating, when political appointees, such as ministers of labour and health are unable to proactively pre-empt strikes of health workers in the country.

“As loyal members of APC, being the governing party, we must appeal to our ministers of labour and health to wake up to their responsibility and end this political embarrassment coming with a huge cost to lives to citizens. Ministers of labour, health and all stakeholders must as a matter of urgency lock themselves in the most qualitative form of negotiations with all workers in the health sector to restore some minimum standards in the sector. This is not simply about negotiating terms and conditions of services of health workers in the country. It is more about creatively ensuring that these are sectors that are essential services sectors with commensurate benefits that are beyond monetary provisions.”

The Director General, however, canvassed for the legal restriction on health workers who are classified as essential workers, just as he called on the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria to restore ethical conducts of all its registered members.

He said: “The frequent strikes by Resident Doctors and health workers generally are unfortunate and avoidable and always lead to preventable deaths of patients in the country.

“Given the cost to human life from strikes by health workers, it is quite alarming that strikes in a sector as important as health would be taking place at all. This is a sector that by every standard should be classified as essential, based on which there should be special legal restrictions regarding labour actions such as strikes. Healthcare, utility services such as electricity and water supply, law enforcement, fire fighting and food services are all categorised both by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and United Nations (UN) as essential services.”

 

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