The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has threatened to embark on strike if the government fails to implement the new salary structure by June 9, 2006.
The GMA has also indicated that it would not accept any “piecemeal payment of salary arrears accrued from January 1, 2006” but wanted the arrears paid in one tranche.
Last year the government suspended the payment of Additional Duty Hour Allowance (ADHA) to health workers and set up a committee to negotiate a new salary structure in place of the ADHA, which was said to have been abused by some health workers, who did not perform any additional duties.
At a press conference organised by the National Executive Council (NEC) of the GMA in Accra, the executive members, drawn from branches all over the country, said there was no way the members of the association could continue to wait after the June 9, deadline.
In a statement on behalf of the GMA, its President, Dr Francis Adu-Ababio, said “I hope we do not reach that stage, but we the executives cannot continue to convince our members to have patience as we have done for the past five months”.
Dr Adu-Ababio said the association was relying on an assurance given by the Minister of Health, Major Courage Quashigah (retd), in a letter dated May 16, 2006, which committed the government “to the first week in June, 2006, by which time payment would be effected at least to those agencies which had completed their validation and correction of staff data”.
“The first week in June, 2006 as was given by the minister which, in our estimation, ends on June 7, 2006, with council magnanimously allowing a two-day's grace period for implementation,” he stated.
One serious concern raised by the association was that now that the ADHA had been withdrawn, the house officers, who were yet to be put on a mechanised pay system and, therefore, could not be included in the new salary structure, had, also not received their salaries since the commencement of the 1st year house job in October, 2005.
“How does anybody expect people to work when they do not receive salaries,” he queried.
Dr Adu-Gyamfi said, however, that until the deadline given by the association elapsed, no member of the group should start any industrial action.
That was in reaction to unconfirmed reports which filtered in during the press conference that junior doctors at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital (KBTH) were planning to lay down their tools.
“The Council has no idea of any intended strike action but if it happens to be true, then whoever is organising it does not have the support of the GMA,” he emphasised.
Elaborating on the action to be taken, Dr Adu-Ababio said if the new salaries were not paid to them by June 9, 2006, members would be asked “to attend to emergency cases and in-patients only between June 10 and June 14, 2006”.
He said if the situation remained the same by June 15, 2006, services would be limited to only in-patients.