ENUGU RESIDENT DOCTORS THREATENING TO EMBARK ON STRIKE ~ Matters Arising
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 define essential service as any service in connection with hospitals, the treatment of the sick and the prevention of disease.
The Resident Doctors of University College 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.
In 2010, in SUIT NO. NIC/EN/16/2010; A-G ENUGU STATE V. NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF GOVERNMENT GENERAL AND DENTAL PRACTITIONERS (NAGMDP) AND ANOR, the National Industrial Court on the 20th of June, 2011 held that service in a hospital is essential service under the Nigerian Law.
Similarly, in 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 our 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 strike made by the Resident Doctors, ESUT Teaching Hospital Parklane Enugu in the face of the subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction is unlawful and unjust. A subsisting Court order must be obeyed until it is set aside.
CONCERNED ENUGU STATE CITIZENS