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EDITORIAL:Strikes Not Productive

The labour scene is boiling once again, thereby disturbing the industrial harmony needed for increased productivity in the country.

Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Polytechnic Teachers Association of Ghana (POTAG) embarked on industrial actions with the view to compelling the authorities to meet their demands.

We have, on countless occasions, raised the red flag about the frequent resort to industrial action by workers or groups to force the government or employers to meet their demands. We have always maintained that nobody goes to the negotiating table with entrenched positions.

However justifiable a group’s demands may be, we believe the beneficiaries of the services rendered by that group, in this case patients, students, parents and, for that matter the entire nation, are the losers. Can we imagine the lives that will be put in danger because of the withdrawal of doctors’ services at KATH? Or the psychological trauma that students will go through, unsure of when teachers will be back in the lecture halls and its attendant cost to parents and guardians?

The Daily Graphic thinks that the junior doctors need to reconsider their position and return to duty. After all, it will not take a day or two to provide the equipment or facilities they are requesting for.

We sympathise with them, considering the circumstances under which they work and the good cause for which they embarked on the industrial action. We wonder why the KATH authorities have failed to address the challenges being encountered by not only the doctors but also other health workers.

We do not think it is the intention of the doctors to fight for patients and end up putting the very patients at a much higher risk of death. Why should patients suffer when the doctors are fighting their cause?

The case of POTAG and UTAG is also not the best for anyone, more especially when the members of POTAG want to be put on the same level as members of UTAG on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

We believe those who conducted the job evaluations on the structure identified the differences in the workload of both UTAG and POTAG, hence the decision to put them at different levels. Justifying an industrial action because the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) has declined to cede to that demand is most unfair.

Our institutions must be allowed to work and it is good news that the government has thrown its support behind the FWSC on this matter. This is particularly right when viewed against the background that the mediation agreement of December 20, 2010 did not envisage equality but a bridging of the gap.

Not only that; the FWSC had pushed the market premium factor of POTAG from the initial 0.6 to 0.9. Moreover, there seems to be no delay in the migration of POTAG members onto the SSSS when that of UTAG has not been completed.

The Daily Graphic is of the view that negotiations hold the key to resolving misunderstandings, not compelling a party to cede to one’s demands through blackmail, such as the use of strikes, although strikes are legitimate provided the procedures are followed.

We, therefore, call on all those on industrial action to explore the benefits of dialogue in order not to disrupt productive activities in the country and retard the development process.

We know that all workers desire better conditions of service, but this should not be done to the detriment of the public good.

Fortunately, Ghana appears to be on the path of economic success and what it needs is the collective effort of all individuals.

No group of workers should hold the nation to ransom.

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