Negotiations for conditions of service for public-sector doctors and other health professionals are expected to resume at the Ministry of Finance today.
Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, and the President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, confirmed the resumption of negotiations in separate interviews with the Daily Graphic yesterday.
Both Mr Iddrisu and Dr Opoku-Adusei agreed that the negotiations should be conducted in good faith, without recourse to past weeks’ incidents during which acrimony and mistrust took centre stage in the negotiations.
Mr Iddrisu said the government was committed to discussions that would result in the codification of conditions of service for public-sector doctors and all health professionals.
According to him, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) had already invited all the stakeholders to ensure the resumption of negotiations.
He urged all the stakeholders, including the government team, to negotiate in good faith and ensure that they were moderate in their demands,considering the state of the economy.
The minister stressed the need for the stakeholders to be mindful of the fact that they could not get everything they were asking for.
He said social dialogue was essential, since any industrial action was inimical to the health sector.
He revealed that four of the 12 chapters of the proposed conditions of service had already been negotiated and was hopeful that the remaining issues would be dealt with expeditiously.
Mr Iddrisu expressed appreciation to the National Peace Council, the National House of Chiefs, the clergy, media and other stakeholders who worked behind the scenes to convince the doctors to return to work.
He indicated that the government would pay the doctors their August salaries, although it (government) had earlier threatened not to pay them.
Dr Opoku-Adusei said doctors were going back to the negotiating table in good faith and expressed the hope that the government team would do same.
That, he explained, meant that documents on the negotiations and discussions would not be made public.
According to him, negotiations had a give-and-take element and so the fact that the doctors made demands did not mean that everything should be provided.
Dr Opoku-Adusei was hopeful that the negotiations would be concluded early enough, so that any agreement reached could be factored into the 2016 budget.
The GMA embarked on a strike on July 29, 2015 by withdrawing all Out-Patient Department (OPD) care to back their demand for conditions of service from the government.
The doctors moved the strike a step further by refusing to attend to emergency cases from August 7, 2015 when the government was unable to met their demand.
On August 14, the GMA met and resolved to continue the strike for two more weeks, instead of the doctors resigning en bloc, as they had earlier threatened to do.
However, a release by the association last Friday evening called on all members to resume work today Monday, August 24, while they awaited further information from their leaders.
The GMA said it took that decision after it had met and deliberated extensively on the ongoing industrial action and discussed all developments, including the dedication of its members to fight for a negotiated and signed conditions of service document for doctors under the Ministry of Health (MoH) and its agencies, as well as appeals from well-meaning Ghanaians and groups.
Culled from Graphic Online