As industrial strike by resident doctors enters second week a call has been made for an urgent reform of the industrial relations system in the country’s health sector for sustainable peace and service delivery.
Comrade Issa AREMU, Director General of Micheal Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies made this appeal in Abuja on Monday.
He spoke at the opening ceremony of of the 2021 Training on Advocacy and Communication for Women’s Cooperatives & Economic Empowerment Collectives (WEECs) on Monday 9th August, 2021 organized in partnership with development Research and Projects Centre (dRPC).
The workshop attracted 35 participants drawn from 35 women leaders from as many as hundreds of cooperative societies; associations of market women and women traders; trade unions, associations of producers; and women’s groups running micro, small and medium enterprises in the country.
Comrade Aremu said it was time stakeholders in the health sector played by what he called “the knowledge based rules of collective bargaining, social dialogue, mediation and conciliation to prevent incessant work stoppages in hospitals with attendant costs to lives.” While condemning what he called “delayed and non payment of workers” in the health sector, the Director General also flayed the prevalence of indefinite strikes in the sector which he said had led to avoidable loss of lives.
“I have also been saying it that delayed payment of salaries of medical personnel such as doctors and nurses and teachers amounted to wage theft. But so also indiscriminate indefinite strike under a Covid: 19 amounts to willful unacceptable Industrial suicide”. Comrade Aremu said MINILS was set to bridge the existing abysmal knowledge gap about labour market issues with respect to trade unionism, conflict resolution, strikes and strike management in critical sectors like education and health sectors.
“A strike is NOT a war certainly not a mutually assured destructive war as we are witnessing in Nigeria. Strike is ‘a temporary stoppage of work by a group of employees in order to express a grievance or enforce a demand’ after which the workers would return to the same jobs with the same terms. Comrade Aremu said it was time all parties suspended the existing unhelpful actions and returned to negotiations in the health sector.
Declaring the workshop open the the Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, SAN said arrangement had been concluded to train newly elected trade union leaders at Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies (MINILS) for certification in effective discharge of their responsibility with respect to representation of members and promotion of Industrial harmony.
The minister said with the new management the Institute was set to become the think tank for labour market issues. He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing Comrade Aremu as the first unionist Director General of the Institute.