Paul Obi in Abuja
The federal government wednesday pleaded with the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) to shelve the five-day nationwide warning strike in the interest of Nigerians who may suffer from the industrial action.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who appealed to NARD members currently on a warning strike, urged them to resume duty in the affected hospitals and clinics, in the interest of their patients and the nation in general.
He called on the doctors “to embrace and utilise the mechanisms of the on – going social dialogue with government on the issues of concern to its members which have not been exhausted before resorting to any form of industrial action. This is even more compelling when these issues are still being discussed with the National Assembly.”
The minister observed that the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA) being the parent body of NARD should join in the appeal to its affiliate, to call off its ongoing warning strike and ensure that due process is followed and complied with by its affiliate.
Due process also involves negotiating parties respecting of all laws contingent to the negotiation.
Ngige drew the attention of the striking members of NARD to the essential nature of their duties to humanity especially as spelt out in the labour laws, stressing the need for the members of NARD to be mindful of their Hippocratic oath while pursuing their relative happiness
In an other develoopment, Ngige also urged the Organisation of Trade Union of West Africa (OTUWA) to lead the vanguard for the diversification of the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region in view of the adverse effects of the global economic downturn.
The minister who spoke at the opening of the three-day Workshop of OTUWA, said the mono-economic base of the West African countries is largely responsible for their current economic woes.
“There is a big threat to the economy of the ECOWAS sub-region because of our largely mono-economic base. I am happy that your organization has been able to live down its challenges. The revived OTUWA must therefore help the governments and employers in the sub-region to look elsewhere.”
“ In Nigeria, we must look for other sources of revenue and the most easily identifiable one is agriculture and of course, mining. We are also diversifying in trade and services. And because of the availability of fertile land in West Africa, the same thing goes to sister countries. OTUWA which is our regional component of the World Union of Trade Unions must hence, lead this campaign for the diversification of the West African economy.”
The Minister further urged the union to help the governments in the region develop the request skills for the full maximization of the utility of their cash crops by enhancing local processing of the raw forms into finished products.
“ I want this workshop to be the starting point of this line of thought by getting our people move from the area of white collar jobs to the blue collar jobs in agriculture and mining,” Ngige added, asking OTUWA to be “ the catalysts in entrenching decent work environment in line with the ILO convention which we all are signatory to.”
President of OTUWA, Comrade Mademba Sock decried the numerous challenges facing labour in the sub-region and said the organization was revived to fight the cause of the workers.
In his goodwill message, the ILO Country Director to Nigeria, Ghana , Liberia, Sierra Leone and Liaison Officer for ECOWAS, Dr. Dennis Zule said the ILo has asked member states to organize national dialogues with all stakeholders in order to come up with suggestions that will be useful for its development initiatives .
Zule stressed that the initiatives have focus on work and society, decent jobs, the orgnisation of work and production as well as governance of work. He additionally called on social partners in the respective countries to contribute the ILO Future of Work Initiative.