Nurses body protests entry point on SSSS

The Ghana Registered Nurses Association (GRNA) has protested the ruling of the National Labour Commission (NLC) that placed the graduate entry of nurses and midwives a step below pharmacists on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

“This is an act which has the potential of fomenting trouble and projecting a new dimension of labour unrest,” it said.

The ruling, according to the GRNA, had been made notwithstanding the fact that it “is not the business of the NLC to order an adjustment of the levels of the SSSS against the position of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) established by an Act of Parliament (Act 2007) to administer and implement the new public service policy of the government”.

Moreover, the Ghana Health Service (GHS), the largest employer of public sector health workers, “has issued a paper establishing that graduate entrants of  nurses/midwives and pharmacists must be placed on equal level of the SSSS”.

At a press conference in Accra Monday to register its protest, the President of the GRNA, Mr Kwaku Asante-Krobea, said the ruling of the NLC had created a distortion on the SSSS, creating disquiet among nurses.

The NLC, on Wednesday, April 17, 2013, dismissed an application by the FWSC to stay the execution of an earlier ruling relating to the grading of public sector pharmacists.

The decision to throw out the application means that the FWSC has to implement an earlier ruling by the NLC given on January 23, 2013 that endorsed a grading structure for public sector pharmacists given by the GHS Council and the Ministry of Health (MoH).

Mr Asante-Krobea said in spite of the fact that the FWSC had appealed against the ruling, the GRNA was still in discussions with the FWSC on the issue.

“Meanwhile, we appeal to our members of the noble profession to remain calm as we take practical steps to ensure that nurses and midwives are not short-changed in the current developments on the labour front and made worse.

“We appeal to all health stakeholders, the employer and all significant others to ensure that the health labour front is not disturbed by standing for fairness, failure of which we nurses and midwives will advise ourselves,” he said.

In a statement jointly signed by Mrs Perpetual Ofori-Ampofo, the General Secretary, and Mr Asante-Krobea, the GNRA implored the FWSC to remain resolute in the discharge of its duties fairly and without fear, favour and discrimination.

It said the GNRA would lend the necessary support to the FWSC to resist all attempts by any person, a group of persons or any established institution of state to distort the comprehensive structure of the pay policy technically created out of a rigorous exercise that involved well-meaning stakeholders.

“Failure of the commission to do so will heighten the tension from aggrieved nurses and midwives who have been victims of discrimination, marginalisation and injustice,” it said.

It said having consciously strived to support the health sector with a strong commitment to care, while some health sector professionals had, justly or otherwise, embarked on strike several times since the implementation of the SSSS, “we nurses and midwives cannot be short-changed in the manner that we see in these current developments”.

It said nurses and midwives had not gone on strike since the implementation of the SSSS because the rank and file of the association had resolved to put the patient first, adding that members also abhorred the repercussions of the withdrawal of the services of nurses and midwives without just cause.

The statement said the GRNA respected the tenets of the Labour Law once they applied fairly, while “we revere the collective oath of the International Council of Nurses, the International Confederation of Midwives and the Commonwealth Nurses’ Federation on respect for precious human lives”.

It said the association upheld the principle of exhausting all channels of negotiation before considering a strike.

“It is important to put on record that since the implementation of the SSSS, nurses and midwives, as a group of critical health service providers, have never embarked on any strike nor agitated to do same for very respectable reasons,” it said.

Story: Emmanuel Bonney

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