The government of Ghana has in a clear term told striking doctors that it does not have money to meet their demands, that’s a one-time payment of arrears owed them.
But the unbending Ghana Medical Association has disregarded government’s position, and has also communicated in a definite term that it would not agree to be paid in installment.
Talks between government and striking doctors Thursday afternoon in a bid to persuade them to call off their strike action have once again failed.
The Association is on strike because it said government has refused to pay its members the current Market Premium on 2012 basic salary and other entitlements contrary to the ruling by the National Labour Commission.
The Ghana Medical Association has also accused government of engaging in what it calls total lies, media war and propaganda. This follows a strong worded statement from government describing the doctors’ strike as illegal, unfounded and insensitive.
Today’s meeting was also attended by the Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Ministry of Finance, National Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Adusei Poku, who confirmed the outcome of the meeting to Joy News, said if government should stick to its decision to pay them in installment, it will rather cause the government to incur more arrears.
He said it is the duty of the government to pay workers; it is therefore untenable for the government to posit that it is broke and cannot pay them, he said.
Dr Adusei Poku said since February they have had eight meetings with the National Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salary Commission, representing the government, but “nothing good has come out”.
He said government only describes doctors as essential service when it comes to work, but dillydally when it comes to their pay and allowances.
“What we are saying is that it is the duty of the government to look for money…it is just like you are at your home with your wife and kids, and when your wife needs chop money you tell your wife that you don’t have chop money and sweep her out of the house that ends it? And even then you don’t have money you don’t have to insult me.”
The GMA President also accused the Labour Commission of failing to go to court to compel the government to obey their earlier ruling.
Meanwhile, labour consultant Senyo Adjabeng has suggested that if persuasion fails some amount of force must be applied to get the doctors back to work.
Government can withdraw salaries or terminate appointments of the striking doctors if it so wished, he said.
“I will go with giving them ultimatum to go back to work and if they don’t their salaries are withheld for the time they have been away; if they go beyond the ultimatum then we would have to find a way of terminating their employment.
“I think that we should try that once in this country so that it will serve as a deterrent to all others; we have gone through this too many times.”