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12.03.2007 General News

Striking health workers dismissed

The Ministry of Health has stated that all health worker who were not at post as from March 6, 2007 should consider themselves dismissed.

A letter dated March 5, 2007 and signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Lepowura M.N.D Jawula on behalf of the sector minister consequently directed all heads of health institutions to compile a list of recalcitrant staff to be forwarded to the Controller and Accountant- General to stop their salaries immediately.

Sections of the health workers have been on strike for about a week now to back their demands for enhanced salaries.

The Daily Graphic newspaper reports the Chairman of the Health Workers Group, Raymond A. Tetteh as dismissing the ministry's directive and describing it as an empty threat.

“We are not worried at all. We don't even consider the circular as a threat”, he rebuffed during the weekend.

He argued that there were no laid down requirements for firing health workers saying the approach resorted to by the ministry was not one of such requirements.

Although Mr Tetteh could not be specific, he said a member of staff could only be sacked if he or she absented himself or herself for about two weeks and considering the fact that the strike was barely one week old and so unilateral, the ministry's directive was inappropriate.

He nevertheless indicated that the leadership of the Health Workers Group would meet on Monday to impress upon its striking members to call off their strike to enable the Appellate Body of the National Commission to continue work on resolving the impasse.

The NLC has described the strike as illegal, saying it is in bad faith coming at a time the parties are at a negotiating table.

For a couple of months now members of the HWG have raised issues with what they consider to be anomalies in the salary structure of health workers.

As a way of expressing their displeasure, they resorted to “work-to-rule” tactics where they worked, as they put it, like civil servants from 8am to 5pm from Monday to Friday only.

However, last week Monday some health workers in the Greater Accra Region decided to go on strike and that has attracted the fury of the sector ministry which this time is not in the least eager to massage their ego.

“The ministry takes a serious view of the ongoing strike,” the letter noted and called on the striking workers to call off their action and go back to work immediately.

The letter which has been posted on the notice boards of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and was faxed on March 5, 2007 and stamped as having been received by the Medical Director of the Hospital on March 8, 2007.

It asked all heads if health institutions to send daily reports to the ministry through the Regional Director, on staff who reported for duty and those who failed to comply with the directive for the necessary action to be taken.

It further asked the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service and the Chief Executives of the teaching hospitals to bring the directive to the notice of their staff and report on the state of the strike with a list of absentee workers.

According to Mr Tetteh, the strike was not nationwide but only in some health facilities in parts of the Greater Accra Region, adding it was not approved by the HWG.

He explained that a meeting of all the parties in the dispute with the Appellate Body of the NLC on February 28, 2007, the parties were briefed on the progress of work of the body and given the assurance that by March 31, 2007, its report would be delivered.

Source: Daily Graphic