NLC says Bill to outlaw strike in health sector negates global standard
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has condemned the moves by the National Assembly to outlaw strike in the health sector through a Bill titled: “An Act to amend the Trade Disputes Act, Cap T8, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 to prohibit medical practitioners in the employment of federal, state and local governments in the essential service sectors from embarking on strikes and to accelerate administrative and judicial proceedings in the determination of trade disputes involving them and related matters”
Joining NLC in negating the Bill are the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU), Assembly of Healthcare Professionals (AHPA) and the Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD).
They described the bill, which has passed its first reading in the House of Representatives, as draconian.
The bill is sponsored by a member of the House representing Enugu State, Simon Atige.
The NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, described the bill was laughable, saying that it is a misplaced priority for any legislator without the requisite knowledge of the global standard set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to propose such a law.
According to him, the issue of labour generally in all jurisdictions is represented by the ILO through conventions and treaties, particularly in the issue of strike in any sector of the economy.
Ayuba said, “In compilation 751 of the document, it states clearly that the right of workers to strike constitute a fundamental right of workers and their organisation especially unions and it is used as means of defending the economic and social rights and interests of those workers. So it’s a global principle. A strike aimed at increase in wages and payment of wage arrears clearly falls within the scope of the legitimacy of the trade union activities. This is compilation 769.
“On the issue of essential service, by the ILO global standard, only air traffic controllers are assumed strictly in its sense as essential service and that is why the word ‘may’ have been used in other sectors, particularly the health sector. No sector can exclusively be said to be essential service outside the air traffic control. This is what is posited by the ILO standard.
“It is laughable, where industrial relations are working optimally, strikes can be avoided and therefore, this is the provision of the law and I am sure that those proposing the bill are not aware of those laws, and those laws are very explicit.”
Workers in Nigeria’s health sector have been locking horns with states and federal government in industrial disputes that border on payments of entitlements and sundry issues for over a year now.
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