The National Executive Council of the Health Workers Group (HWG) of Ghana has declared its intention to embark on an indefinite nation-wide strike from April 30, 2007 to back demands for the implementation of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between members and the government.
“The HWG will only call off the strike if the contents of the MoU signed between the government and health workers are fulfilled because it is adhering to the principle of equal pay for equal work of equal value,” they claimed.
This was announced at a news conference in Tema addressed by the Chairman of the Ghana Health Workers Association, Mr Raymond Tetteh.
The HWG is made up of the Association of Health Services Administrators, the Ghana Government and Hospital Pharmacists Association, the Health Accounting Staff Association of Ghana, the Health Services Workers Union, the Ghana Registered Nurses Association, the Ghana Federation of Allied Health Professionals, the Ghana Medical Assistants Association and the Ghana Association of Nurse Anaesthetists.
Mr Tetteh said it was expected that issues bordering on essential services, as pertained in the case of health workers, would be treated with the utmost urgency.
He recounted the various efforts the workers had made to solve the disparities in their job evaluation exercise to translate it into a more equitable pay system.
Mr Tetteh said a dispute between them and the Negotiating Committee of the Ghana Health Service was referred to the National Labour Commission (NLC) for compulsory arbitration, which came out with its ruling on April 19, 2007.
Mr Tetteh said a Public Health Sector Appellate body was later inaugurated by the Minister of Health in August 2006 to solve the disparity of bridging the gap between doctors and the other clinical staff but information reaching the group had shown that the report had failed to address the issues at stake.
He was optimistic that there was manipulation by people in authority and, therefore, he was suspicious of the report they would come out with.
Mr Tetteh said the HWG was open to dialogue on the issue, though members had become impatient and suspicious of the intentions of those in authority.
He called on the government to take a quick and decisive action now to solve the impasse which had taken too long to address to forestall any disruption in health delivery.
The President of the Ghana Registered Nurses Association, Mrs Alice Darkoe Asare-Allotey, said the association had the mandate of its members nation-wide and, therefore, the action would cover the whole country.
She said the HWG represented 95.5 per cent workers at the hospitals, while doctors represented 4.5 per cent, noting that the law had failed them.
Mrs Asare-Allotey was not happy with the rejection of the various scenarios raised by the consultant, Cedar Care Trust International of the UK, which she said would have solved the problem.
She disclosed that skeletal staff would be put in certain areas of the hospitals to take care of patients already on admission but they would not receive new patients.
“We will then see the strength of the doctors who even do not remain on the hospital premises for long,” she added.
Story by Rose Hayford Darko.