Members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) have taken a collective decision to continue with the strike action initiated two weeks ago to impress upon government to yield to their demands for better conditions of service.
The doctors have stopped providing emergency services in a strike over their conditions of service and for the past two weeks, out patient services at government hospitals have been suspended because of the disagreements.
At a meeting of the general assembly of the association of doctors in Accra on Friday, the rank and file voted to support the motion for the status quo [strike action] to continue for two more weeks.
Graphic Online’s Caroline Boateng, who was at the meeting, reported that the doctors decided to reconvene to review what would happen in the next two weeks and take a decision on the way forward.
According to our reporter, the doctors explained that among the decisions to be taken in their next meeting would be a consideration to begin processes for mass resignation depending on the outcome of their deliberations with government.
They asked their representatives to go back and meet with government to negotiate on their conditions of service.
The public sector doctors had threatened to resign en masse if government failed to agree with them on their conditions of service.
Friday’s meeting held at the GMA House at Korle Bu was well-attended by the members, as our reporter explained that the hall for the meeting was full.
At the meeting, the doctors deliberated on restoring emergency services and allowing the strike to continue. When it was put to the vote, they voted to support a continuation of the strike for two more weeks.
President John Dramani Mahama has said that he would not be pressured to spend more than what had been budgeted for the year and has reiterated his call on the doctors to end their “illegal strike” and return to work while negotiations over their working conditions continue.
According to the President, “nobody must die because of an illegal strike” over conditions of service that have never existed but are now being negotiated to be institutionalized.
But in a rebuttal, President of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Kwabena Poku Adusei have said their demands were to be effected in 2016 and hence had no repercussions for this year's budget.
This has however instigated debates on the rationale for the strike action now, if the demands were for next year.
The doctors are asking for conditions of service which is non-existent. It is the first time it’s being introduced and the processes of negotiation to establish those conditions of service are underway.
The doctors have drawn up their proposals and presented it to government to which government has said the demands cannot be met and has presented a counter proposal.
Even before the negotiations are to conclude the doctors have initiated a strike to pressurize government to accept their proposals. Ghana’s Labour Law frowns on negotiating under duress and hence government has described the doctors strike as "illegal".
Government has explained granting the doctors demands was not simplistic as it was not just about the striking doctors who are affected by their demands, but that a whole lot of other professionals linked to the business of providing health services also come into view relative to the pay structure.
According to government it cannot single out one group of the health workers and accede to those demands. The negotiations are expected to continue next week.
Source: Daily Graphic
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