Jail striking Resident Doctors – Concerned citizens tell Enugu Govt

April 27, 2020
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Some concerned citizens of Enugu State have expressed dismay over the strike declared by the Association of Resident Doctors, Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Parklane.

DAILY POST reports that the doctors in the State-owned teaching hospital had on Thursday, suddenly announced an indefinite strike, the same day the Government paid full salaries of all the State civil servants, with an additional 25 percent COVID-19 allowance to health workers.

But a few hours after receiving their pay, the resident doctors downed tools, asking for more.

Residents view the action as a contempt of court and as such the doctors should be brought to book.

One of the concerned citizens of the State, Chief Victor Ngene, while reacting, said “By the provisions of Section 31 (6) (a) of the Trade Union Act, Cap. T14, LFN, 2004, as amended by the Trade Union (Amendment) Act, No. 17 of 2005, it is unlawful for any person, trade union or employee that engage in the provision of essential services to take part in a strike or lockout or engage in conduct in contemplation or furtherance of a strike or lockout.

“Section 7 (1) (b) (iv) of the Trade Dispute (Essential Services) Act, Cap. T9, LFN, 2010 clearly defines essential service as any service in connection with hospitals, the treatment of the sick and the prevention of disease.

“The Resident Doctors of ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane Enugu are engaged in rendering essential services within the contemplation of Section 48 (1) of the Trade Disputes Act, Cap. T8, LFN, 2004; Section 7 (1) (b) (iv) of the Trade Dispute (Essential Services) Act, Cap. T9, LFN, 2010 and 31 (6) (a) of the Trade Union Act, Cap. T14, LFN, 2004, as amended by the Trade Union (Amendment) Act, No. 17 of 2005. Consequently, they are not in law entitled to embark or threaten to embark on any strike.”

While maintaining that strike was illegal, they held that “in the suit, NICN/EN/226/2013; UNIVERSITY COLLEGE TEACHING HOSPITAL BOARD V. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RESIDENT DOCTORS OF NIGERIA & 2 ORS, the National Industrial Court, on the 23rd June, 2014 decided that the Resident Doctors are engaged in the provision of essential services and cannot take part in any strike, or engage in any conduct in contemplation or furtherance of any strike/industrial action.

“Out of abundance of caution, when the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane Enugu, by a letter dated 28th day of February, 2020 threatened to embark on industrial action, the Enugu State Government in SUIT NO: NIC/EN/16/2020, ENUGU STATE GOVERNMENT V. DR. EDOGA CHIME EMMANUEL & ANOR took Originating Summons on the 2nd of March, 2020 for the court to determine whether in view of the extant laws and earlier decisions, the Resident Doctors can embark on a strike action.

“Following the Originating Summons, Motion Ex Parte and Motion on Notice filed and upon the hearing of the Motion Ex Parte, the National Industrial Court sitting in Enugu on 2nd March, 2020 issued an order restraining the Resident Doctors, ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane Enugu from embarking on any strike pending the determination of the Motion on Notice.

“That order has been duly served on the representatives of the Resident Doctors and they have filed their response to the court processes served on them through their lawyer. That case is still pending in court and coming up for hearing on the 20th of May, 2020.

“We, therefore, view with dismay the threat by the same Resident Doctors, ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane Enugu to embark on strike in the face of this Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, worst still when there have been decisions of court against such an action and subsisting order of injunction restraining the Resident Doctors, ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane Enugu from embarking on strike/industrial action.

“The threat to embark on a strike made by the Resident Doctors in the face of the subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction is unlawful and unjust. They should be made to face the full weight of the law. A subsisting Court order must be obeyed until it is set aside.”

Another citizen of the State, Dr. Edward Arinzechukwu, who equally condemned th strike, said “it is the height of insensitivity and professional irresponsibility for the Resident Doctors to go on strike (in contravention of an existing Court Order) at this point of global COVID-19 pandemic, when all hands are on deck to contain the spread of the deadly viral disease.

“The question begging for an answer is this: Do these doctors who swore their professional oath to protect and save lives, want Ndi Enugu dead, in their crass desperation to achieve their selfish material interest?

“Ndi Enugu Ibem, let’s join hands to condemn and discourage these strange acts of mischief, insensitivity and professional irresponsibility.”

He noted that apart from the 25 percent allowance paid to all health workers, “the state government recently approved a life insurance package for doctors and other health workers in the state, also as incentive.”

“What the ARD (Association of Resident Doctors) is doing, which they did earlier, is to arm-twist the State government to succumb to its self-centred demands,” he declared.

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