NLC Orders Doctors To Call Off Strike
Naa Prof John S. Nabila
The National Labour Commission (NLC) has directed members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) to go back to work with immediate effect.
This directive was announced after a meeting among the Commission; government, represented by the ministries of health, employment and labour relations; the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission; the Ghana Health Service and the GMA two days ago.
A statement signed by Dr. Bernice Welbeck, Executive Secretary for the Commission, said the NLC's intervention was pursuant to Section 138(1) (a) of the Labour Act 2003 (Act 651) which states.
It called for both parties to resume negotiations immediately and report to the commission on Monday, 24 August, 2015.
The statement also called on both parties to cease all media engagements forthwith.
Members of the GMA, for the past three weeks, have refused to offer medical services to patients at the Out-Patients Department (OPD) and the Emergency Departments at the public hospitals to push for codified conditions of service.
The Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, gave the doctors till yesterday to go back to work or flout the labour act. However, the doctors called his bluff, saying they would not resume work until their conditions of service had been finalized and signed.
GMA stated emphatically that 'the threats and ultimatums do in no way water down our resolve in seeking for proper documented and negotiated conditions of service.'
'All members, including those working in the district hospitals, should stick to the road map and continue to attend to only in-patients whiles withdrawing out-patient and emergency services and stay tuned for directions from leadership,' it stated.
There is an uncertainty as to whether the GMA would comply with the directive by the NLC after the meeting on Wednesday, especially when the doctors expressed lack of trust in the NLC.
The association had blamed the NLC for its inability to make government comply with an earlier ruling in favour of the GMA.
'Why are we sitting here and the NLC has kept quiet on this important issue [has remained unresolved] till date. They haven't come out with any document, statement or anything; they are quiet. The NLC has been quiet about this important issue till date,' Dr. Adom Winful, former GMA president, pointed out.
He added that 'as far as GMA is concerned, nobody has any trust in them because their own laws and rules have been flouted by government and they have not raised any issues.'
According to the association, the decision to call for the strike was agreed on by the general assembly therefore for the strike to be called off, it would take the general assembly meeting to vote on the motion.
Meanwhile, a senior member of the GMA, Hardi Abdullah, speaking on the directive by the GMA, said it would be suicidal for the association to call off the strike as directed by the NLC.
The National House of Chiefs, after holding separate meetings with the GMA and government to resolve the impasse, has urged all parties to reconsider their positions and resort to dialogue.
A statement signed by Wulugu Naba, Pugansoa Naa Prof. John S. Nabila, President, National House of Chiefs, said the doctors are willing to go back to the negotiating table for an amicable resolution of the impasse.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri