“No Arrears Would Be Paid”
Government, has told members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) in plain language, to forget any arrears owed them and also discard the idea of laying down their tools on Monday.
In a letter addressed to all agencies under him, Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, pointed out that the government, would not entertain doctors’ threat to strike, because it is strictly following an agreement the Mahama administration signed with the Health Workers Union through the Fair Wages and Salary Structure (FWSS).
“You would recall that in 2015, the Government of Ghana, through the Fair Wages and Salary Commission, agreed and signed condition of service document with the following Health Workers Union”, he said in the document issued on Wednesday July 30, 2018.
Mr Agyeman-Manu said “Conditions of Service” agreement signed in 2015, is binding on health professionals such as Ghana Nursing and Midwifery Association, Health Service Workers Union and Government and Hospital Pharmacist Association, as well as the Ghana Medical Association.
The brief statement copied to the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, the deputy Minister of Health, Ministry of Health Agencies, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) FWSS, and others said “Please be reminded that per Government Policy, no arrears would be paid”.
The Health Minister’s position, follows threat by medical doctors to withdraw outpatient services at public health facilities on Monday, August 6, 2018.
The Association, had asked government to resolve their outstanding emolument issues failure to which they would be forced to withdraw emergency services from August 20, 2018.
The warning was contained in a communiqué issued by the Association after its 4th National Executive Council meeting held in Jirapa in the Upper West Region last month.
Earlier, there had been indication that officials at the Health Ministry, were working round the clock to avert the intended strike.
The GMA, had hoped for a favorable response from the Ministry, but as it turnout, the Ministry is not interested.
The President of the GMA, Dr. Frank Ankobea, had told the medi,a although the Ministry, had not officially engaged the Association; it hoped its efforts will result in a positive outcome.
“We can’t be more than hopeful. That is what we are looking forward to. If they are meeting to resolve the issues, that is brilliant.”
“The only thing [we have] is a letter from the Labour Commission copied to us [saying] we are inviting the ministry to resolve these things.”
“I think I only need to be hopeful that they will address the issue and then we will all avoid the unpleasant thing of withdrawal of services by doctors,” Dr. Frank Ankobea stated.
On the list were reduced pension benefits, following their migration onto the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP), with the conversion difference unpaid since December 2011.
GMA stated that in November 2017, it gave the government up to the end of April 2018, to honour its obligation towards members of the Association, following a compulsory arbitration by the National Labour Commission (NLC), however, the government failed to deliver on its part of the bargain.
In addition, it wants their market premiums to return to a factor percentage of basic salary.
They also want the Ministry to take immediate steps to “ensure direct transfers of National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL) to the NHIL account at Bank of Ghana and stop the current practice of paying the NHIL to the consolidated account before subsequent transfer into the NHIL account.”
“The issues of doctors having suffered reduced pensions following migration onto the Single Spine Pay Policy and the non-payment of conversion difference is still outstanding since December 2011 in spite of the NLC’s compulsory arbitration award which binds both parties (and subsequent directives by the NLC to the government to correct same).”
Before Mr Agyeman-Manu’s statement, the NLC, had directed the Ministries of Health, Finance and Employment and Labour Relations to within three days, furnish it with measures put in place to prevent a looming nationwide strike by doctors in the country.
“When we were given notice of a strike or a looming danger, we wrote to the three ministries, Finance, Health and Employment and Labour to apprise the commission on what steps they are taking to avert it because we are aware of this issue for some time now; the issue of arrears and market premium and other things. So we are being proactive. We’ve given them 3 days.”
The University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has also threatened a strike, which the commission is contending with, in addition to the doctors.