From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to effect payment of doctors, nurses and other health workers for the period they were on strike in 2018 and 2021.
Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, disclosed this while briefing newsmen after meeting with President Buhari at the State House, Abuja, yesterday.
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He said the payment will be for the two months the resident doctors went on strike in 2021 and the three months the nurses and other health workers downed tools in 2018.
According to him: “Mr. President has approved last week and I have the authority and letter, directing the Minister of Finance to release the funds of the resident doctors for September and October 2021, which was seized in conformity with the law.
“In the same vein, the approval also covers members of the JOHESU who went on strike in 2018 for three months. After the first month, after March, when they couldn’t come back, we asked that their pay be suspended, this is in tandem with the ILO principles at work. You have a right to strike, but the employer has a right to stop your remuneration and if possible, use it to keep his enterprise going by taking new hands, where possible, especially in essential services.
“So that same money for 2018 April and May, Mr. President has again approved that the Finance Minister refunds on compassionate grounds, those payments. This is predicated on the grounds that this group of workers has been showing a lot of dedication and concern to the COVID-19 and that their Hazard Allowance for 2021 had remained what it was before.
“So, on compassionate grounds and…we agreed they should be getting this money to keep their moral high. We’re not yet free of COVID-19, we need to do everything to keep the health workers here, happy.
“In the same vein, he has also directed us to conclude the discussions on the other allowance for the health workers so that they can enjoy it anytime from now.
“So tomorrow (today), we’re convening a meeting of Presidential Committee on Salaries and Wages, where we’ll ratify the new pay hazard structure for health workers.”
The minister noted that efforts must be made to ensure industrial harmony in the country to allow all sectors to operate well.
On the threat by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to go on strike over non-implementation of the 2020 Memorandum of Action (MoA) reached with the union, Ngige said the union should educate its members on the amount of money the Federal Government has already paid to them.
He said they may be threatening to go on strike not knowing that money has already been paid while the 2009 agreement, which is the other dispute that the union has, is still at the level of Collective Bargaining Agreement.
The minister said: “On the side of ASUU, you will also notice that there’s been some brewing crisis. ASUU and their direct employer, which is the Ministry of Education, there’s a tango and the tango is running round the MoA signed in 2020.
“Refreshing your minds, they were on strike last year and they were at home for nearly nine months and last December, the president magnanimously gave them a blanket clemency and we paid them their money for the nine months, spanning into January, February of this year.
“We gave them back nearly nine months’ pay. After doing that, we also gave them a revitalization fund for N40 billion, early this year, for the revitalization of the university system. In the MoA, we agreed they should get another revitalization this year and by last July, August. The money for revitalization was paid to them, for the university system that were entitled to that. N30 billion was paid…”
Akeredolu appoints chairmen, members for Ondo parastatals
The Ondo State Governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, has approved the appointment of some members of the state All Progressives Congress to the state boards and parastatals.
The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Richard Olatunde, made this known in a statement on Thursday.
According to the statement, a former speaker of the state House of Assembly, Victor Olabimtan, was appointed the Chairman of the State Universal Basic Education Board.
The governor equally approved the appointment of Sam Erejuwa as the Chairman of the Ondo State Oil Producing Area Development Commission .
Similarly, Olajide Akinroluyo has been appointed as the chairman of the Pool Betting and Lotteries Board.
“The appointments take immediate effect,” the statement read.
The statement also noted that the governor has approved the appointment of Rafiu Akinkuolie as member of the Judicial Service Commission. His name has been forwarded to the Ondo State House of Assembly for screening.
Akeredolu congratulated the new appointees and charged them to justify the confidence reposed in them by performing excellently in their new offices.
Google appeals $2.8bn shopping fine at EU court
Google on Thursday appealed an EU court decision to uphold the bloc’s 2.4-billion-euro ($2.8-billion) fine for abusing its search engine dominance.
The tech giant said it would go to the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, after the General Court confirmed in November a decision by the European Commission in 2017.
At the time, the fine was the European Union’s biggest ever. But it was later exceeded by a 4.3-billion-euro fine against Google over its Android smartphone operating system.
“After careful consideration, we have decided to appeal the General Court’s decision because we feel there are areas that require legal clarification from the European Court of Justice,” a short statement by the company said.
The case centres on Google’s shopping service and is one of three against the search engine giant currently moving through the EU’s drawn-out appeals system.
The new appeal could take up to two years to reach an outcome, stretching the case out to well more than a decade after the commission launched its investigation in 2010.
The court confirmation on Google Shopping was a win for the EU’s anti-trust supremo Margrethe Vestager, who burst onto the scene in Brussels by scrapping her predecessor’s more conciliatory approach to the US internet giant.
Vestager had lost in the same court in a different major case, against Apple and Ireland, in which her teams had ordered the iPhone maker to repay 13 billion euros plus interest to the Irish taxpayer. The EU has appealed that ruling.
The fine for Google came after seven years of investigation launched by complaints from other price-comparison services that saw traffic plummet against Google Shopping.