Doctors dragged to court

Dr Kwabena Opoku Adusei

Dr Kwabena Opoku Adusei

The National Labour Commission (NLC) has finally sued the leadership and members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) over what they consider an illegal strike action, which has lasted for the past three weeks.

The Commission is, among others, seeking “an order to compel the GMA to call off its illegal strike and resume work immediately in accordance with the said directive of the NLC.”

Hearing of the case has been scheduled for next Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

But President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Opoku Adusei, said they were unfazed by the action embarked upon by the Labour Commission and by extension  government.

“We will meet them in court on Tuesday”, he told Daily Guide moments after the decision became public.

The NLC has, however, prayed the High Court, which would hear the case, to enforce it for the striking doctors to resume work.

This, he indicated, was because “contrary to the law and directive of the Commission, including the signing of the MoU, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) has embarked on an illegal strike, much to the detriment of the good people of the Republic of Ghana.”

In an affidavit in support of a motion filed at an Accra High court by Executive Secretary of the NLC, Edward Briku Boadu, indicated that the action of the doctors was in contravention of section 163 of Act 651 which states that a party to an industrial dispute shall not resort to a strike or lockout during the period when negotiations, mediation, arbitration proceedings are in progress and section 163 of the same Act which prohibits strikes and lockouts in respect of essential workers.

Apart from that, he claimed the notice to embark on the strike was written by the GMA to the NLC on April 7, 2013 in which they indicated their intention to commence on April 8 was also in contravention of section 159 of Act 651 and that it failed to respect the various agreements between the striking doctors and government over the standoff.

The Executive Secretary of the NLC, therefore, noted “it has become apparent that the GMA does not intend to call off the said illegal strike and will not do so till compelled by this honourable court to do so.”

GMA justification

In an interview with the paper, Dr Adusei Opoku quoted section 172 which states that when one party to a compulsory arbitration refuses to obey the law, it was incumbent on the Labour Commission to go to a High Court to get an order to enforce its ruling to justify their action.

“So ask the National Labour Commission when they ruled on the 4th of November 2011 and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and the government refused to obey , why did they not go to court; is it because they were with government and now they see doctors as…and they will take us to court?”, he asked rhetorically.

The GMA President had a word of advice for the NLC “if they are not careful, they will commit suicide.”

“Eventually when they call us, we will not come; every single issue, we will go to court”, he noted.

By Charles Takyi-Boadu