The National Executive Council (NEC) of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has brushed aside accusations of backtracking on an earlier decision reached with government and other parties to back off its threats to withdraw emergency services.
While admitting to signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on April 11, 2013 which resulted in shelving the threat to activate the second phase of its strike beginning April 15, the GMA President Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei said he had verbally made it clear to the parties that the final decision would rest on what the association’s constituency would say.
He told Daily Graphic that after the NEC had met with the larger group, it was agreed that once the government was not committed to resolving the issue of conversion difference for doctors as contained in the MoU, there was the need to carry on with the withdrawal of emergency services.
The MoU, among other things, stated that the issues of conversion difference and pensions were being tackled by the Single Spine Post-Migration Technical Committee and that the government and the GMA would ensure commitment to the process.
However, it said the doctors were surprised to learn the next day when a team went for discussions on the MoU that the government had decided to drop further deliberations on the conversion difference.
Dr Opoku-Adusei expressed regret that the government had decided to abide by all the stated agreements in the MoU, except the conversion difference, “which is very important to us”.
“When people are building filling stations and mansions all over, why does it (government) want to deny us our small money?” he questioned.
He said in total what doctors were demanding from the government would add up to about GH¢45 million.
“We don’t want to go on pension to become paupers,” Dr Opoku-Adusei said, and challenged the government to explain why it was not ready to discuss the conversion difference.
He produced a copy of the four-point MoU reached at the meeting between the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, the Ministry of Finance and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), on the one hand, and the GMA, on the other, in the presence of the TUC, and another one between the GMA and the Public Services Joint Standing Negotiating Committee on April 12, 2013 to back doctors’ defence to withdraw emergency services from yesterday.
Point four of the MoU stated: “That the issue of conversion difference and pensions is being dealt with by the Single Spine Post-Migration Technical Committee, and the government and the GMA will ensure commitment to the process.”
The GMA President again produced a copy of the statement issued at the April 12 meeting where the authorities refused to take on board discussions on the conversion difference.
He explained that the restoration of the payment of conversion difference would ensure that the basic salaries of doctors were restored to the levels of the Health Salary Structure Pay Scale 1 (HSSS 1) before migration onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) as stipulated in the government White Paper governing the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).
He expressed disappointment at the way some people in government had reduced the issue to personal attacks on the GMA executives and sometimes attaching political motives to the development.
“If they are saying we are all NPP members who only want to paint the government in bad light, then it is up to them,” Dr Opoku-Adusei said.
He stated that Ghanaians should blame the government for the strike, not the GMA.