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Health - News - December 17, 2021

President Directs Finance Minister to Pay Seized Salaries:

Other Renumerations of Doctors, Nurses and other Health Workers.

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to release the salaries of doctors, nurses and other health workers, which were seized when they embarked on industrial action in 2018 and 2021.

The federal government also challenged the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to tell their members how much of their outstanding allowances and salaries government had been paid. Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, stated this on Thursday in Abuja while addressing newsmen after a closed-door meeting with Buhari at the State House.

Ngige disclosed that the president had approved the authority letter to release the salaries of the resident doctors for September and October 2021. According to him, the approval also covers the wages of nurses and other members of the Joint Health Services Union (JOHESU) who went on strike in 2018.
He said the approval for the release of the salaries was on compassionate grounds and to encourage them, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic still raging.

The minister revealed that the president had also directed relevant agencies to conclude the discussions on the other allowances for the health workers.
He stated, “The president graciously approved that we pay back some funds, some wages, which we did not pay health workers.

“First, section 43 of the Trade Disputes Act says that when a worker goes on strike, especially those on essential services, the employer can also refuse to pay. That is what they call the ‘No Work, No Pay Rule’. But these health sector workers; doctors, pharmacists, nurses and members of JOHESU, we’re trying to make sure that we create an equitable environment for them to function.

“As a first step, Mr. President has 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 were seized in conformity with the law.

“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 reimburse, 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 and that their Hazard Allowance for 2021 had remained what it was before.

“On compassionate grounds we agreed that they should be getting this money to keep their morale high. We’re not yet free of COVID-19 and the new mutants; we need to do everything to keep the health workers here happy.

“In the same vein, he has also directed us to conclude the discussions on the other allowance for the health workers so that they can enjoy it anytime from now.

Today (Friday), a meeting is expected between the Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages, where ratification of the new pay hazard structure for health workers will be discussed.

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