By Gifty Arthur
Some members of the unemployed nurses, who staged a demonstration in the national capital, Accra, have described as unacceptable the behaviour and posture of the Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Mensah.
One of the aggrieved nurses who was on the street on Monday to join colleagues to protest against government’s decision to enroll them on its flagship programme, the Nation’s Builder Crops (NABCo) claims the Deputy Minister, nearly knocked him down with her V8 land cruiser.
Recounting his ordeal on Accra-based Citi fm, the nurse, whose name was not readily available, said “She nearly knocked me down with her vehicle”.
Another also interrupted, saying the Deputy Minister, needed to understand that power does not lasts forever and that they did not come to power through military coup because in 2020, they will return to the same electorates for their votes.
Another nurse, who could not control her emotions, reminded her to be patient when dealing with young people as they can pass as her children.
The incident happened at Arts Centre in Accra, where the demonstrating nurses, had gathered, to present a petition to the Vice President, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, through the deputy minister.
It is not clear, if Ms Mensah’s behaviour was as a result of the insistence by the group that, they want their petition to be forwarded to the vice president that infuriated her but the nurses say, they were not happy with how her driver hurriedly drove off after she received the petition.
The nurses who were holding placards with inscriptions such as “We deserve permanent posting as bonded nurses, NABCo is modern day slavery, permanent posting is the only solution to demonstrations, Ghanaians deserve full healthcare, heal Ghana is a con policy, we reject NABCo processional nurses reiterates” said they wished the Deputy Minister addressed them properly by way of assurance.
In an interview with ATV president of the Ghana Nurse-Midwife Trainee`s Association, Batiah Semi-Ulah-Santi, said they were disappointed because in as much as the deputy minister personally assured him, she would forward the petition to the vice president, he wished she calmed down and spoke to them in a manner that would have softened the hearts of the members.
He said, he was not surprised about the behaviour of the deputy minister, because in the past that has been how the substantive Minister; Kwaku Agyeman Manu, behaved towards them.
He said on countless occasions, when they stormed the Ministry, they were treated with disdain by the Minister. He assured they would not rest until they are given clearance to be posted.
Shanti, who was with other leaders of the various nurses associations said they have given government a two-week ultimatum failure to which they will be forced to stage continuous demonstration at the Ministry until their issue is resolved.
According to him, they insisted the petition be sent to the presidency, because they did not want it to remain at the Ministry where previous ones, are still lying down gathering dust.
On Monday some angry unemployed nurses hit the streets to register their displeasure and frustration government’s decision to employ them under the NABCo programme.
The agitated nurses who are members of the Ghana Nurse-Midwife Trainee Association in their hundreds marched in protest against government’s decision to enroll some of them on the Heal Ghana module under the NaBCo initiative with a monthly salary of GHC700.
According to the nurses, it was an insult to their profession and very discriminatory thus they want a better policy which would be fair and equal.
The nurses marched through the principal streets of Accra, from the Obra Spot at Kwame Nkrumah Circle, passing through Adabraka, Makola, Tema Station, and ended at the Accra Arts Center.
Expressing their disappointment in the Akufo-Addo’s administration, the unemployed nurses, said the government had failed to fulfill its 2016 promises.
According to the aggrieved health professionals, the ‘Heal Ghana’ policy to be implemented by the government would deprive them of special benefits which have been given to nurses on Government’s payroll. The denied benefits they said included an insurance package, working leave, good salary and other essential benefits.
Present at the demonstration grounds were representatives from the Ghana Nursing and Midwives Trainees Association (GNMTA), Physician Assistant Students Association of Ghana (PASSAG), Private University Nurses Association of Ghana (PUNAG).
Others were, the University Nursing Students Association of Ghana (UNSAG), Federation of Ghana Medical Laboratory Sciences Students Association of Ghana (FG-MELSA), Coalition of Private Unemployed Nurses (COPUN), Coalition of Degree Allied Health Professionals, Coalition of Unposted Allied Health Professionals and other concerned citizens.
Speaking to the media the President of Ghana Registered Nurses and Midwifery , Dr. Kwaku Asante Krobea, said the NABCo initiative, does not commensurate with what the labour union has negotiated for health workers, hence the need to resist it.
“We have made very huge investments as professional associations and a labour union for all nurses and midwives in the training of these professionals and I do not want our labour to be in vain.
“The ultimate is that after they have acquired these unique skills as professional nurses and midwives, they should get employment that is secure with acceptable remunerations as been negotiated for with government with their salaries and their conditions of service, that I am aware NABCO is not ready to offer,” he pointed out.
He further stated that there is cause to worry considering that the NABCO initiative intends to engage professionals but it’s not prepared to treat them as professionals by paying the right wages and conditions of service.
He maintains that “for us there should be nothing like temporary employment for nurses and midwives” and that the GHS 700 is too small an amount for them. He wants them put on the single spine pay structure.
Dr. Kwaku Asante Krobea said, they were ready to engage government further on the matter, so as to have their grievances addressed.
The National Health Students’ Association of Ghana (NAHSAG), who are the conveners of the demonstration, have described the offer as “modern day slavery” and have galvanized support from other health associations to kick against it.
The associations are demanding for an offer that, would engage the services of unemployed graduate nurses and other health workers permanently with better conditions of service, contrary to government’s GHS700 monthly stipends under the Heal Ghana module.