Doctors have taken from Ghanaians the right to life- Deputy Minister

The deputy Minister designate of Interior has slammed doctors, accusing them of violating the labour laws of Ghana and taking from Ghanaians the inalienable right to life.

James Agalga said the strike action called by the doctors to press home their demand for a lump sum payment of their arrears is “illegal and indefensible.”

Whilst conceding that the doctors may have a “genuine concern” he said, “they have gone too far by doing what the law says they shouldn’t do.”

“Doctors have taken an oath to work and they should be bound by that law,” he stated adding, “There is a human rights angle to this whole strike. When doctors strike people die.”

He made the comments on Multi TV and Joy FM’s news analysis programme Newsfile on Saturday.

Ghana’s labour front has witnessed turbulent times over the past few weeks with doctors, teachers, judicial service workers all taking turns to go on strike over arrears owed them under the Single Spine Salary Structure.

In the mist of the strikes, parties from government and the labour unions, especially doctors have sent strongly worded statements attacking and defending their positions.

On Friday however, the Public Service Joint Standing Negotiating Committee made up of representatives of government, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission as well as the various labour unions after a meeting agreed to a cease fire.

It is yet to be ascertained if the strike action will be called off by the various striking unions.

Singling out the doctors for criticism, James Agalga maintained that doctors occupy a category of essential service providers which prevents them from going on strike and they must begin to respect the laws.

He said merely because the Labour Commission itself failed in implementing the laws, does not mean the doctors must also flagrantly violate the laws.

Agalga appealed to the doctors to accept the payment in tranches and go back to work.

A member of the New Patriotic Party and former Press Secretary to President John Kufuor said the labour unrest is as a result of a “systemic failure and a serious financial mismanagement” by government.

Kwabena Agyapong said the posturing by government officials have not helped matters at all.

He cautioned government to stop “governing on air” and learn from past experiences to resolve the current crisis.