The chaos in the public health sector may not be ending anytime soon because there is no money to meet the demands of the workers, especially those of the striking doctors who are in day seven of the strike.
Three deaths have so far been recorded at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital as a result of the strike.
According to Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Haruna Iddrisu,
the government is ?overstretched? in its finances to accede to the demands of the workers in the interim. He said bluntly that the government did not have the resources to meet all the demands of the striking workers, even if the requests are legitimate.
?Further, it is important for Government to conduct a financial analysis of the impact of any such conditions of service on Government expenditure in order not to adversely affect the annual budget approved by
Parliament,? he said.
Several government workers, including doctors in public health facilities and pharmacists, are on strike but attending to only emergency situations after failed promises to meet their demands.
Mr Iddrisu said the economy is constrained to accommodate any labour
unrests based on remuneration – painting a picture of financial crisis situation.
The IMF had already warned the government against high wage bill.
The minister maintained that the doctors made some 14 demands: ?some we are
able to accommodate; some partially, others we were not able to accommodate at all.?
He rather asked the doctors to return to the negotiating table so that the differences would be ironed out.
Mr Iddrisu stated that as a result of the need to maintain equity and fairness in public sector remuneration, especially in order not to jeopardise the recently implemented Single Spine Pay Policy, it had become necessary for government to seek the advice of the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) on the demands put forward by the doctors.
The Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is leading the charge with demands for improved conditions of service as well as pensions. According to the
members, the government had failed to finalise a document spelling out their conditions of service by the end of July 2015, which was the deadline set by the association.
The GMA issued the ultimatum to strike as far back as November last year, and once the June 2015 deadline elapsed, they swung into action.
Part of the doctors? demands include 40% of basic salaries as accommodation allowance per month, 20% as core duty facilitation allowance, 30% clothing allowance, 20% maintenance allowance, 20% utility allowance, 50% as professional allowance and 25% special risk allowance and
vehicle tax exemption.
NDC Propaganda The proposal has been described as ?outrageous? by some sections of the public, particularly National Democratic Congress (NDC) communicators, but the doctors have accused the presidency of deliberately releasing its propagandists to cause them public disaffection.
The NDC propagandists have cynically urged the government to sack the doctors and bring in medical professionals from Cuba; but the doctors have called their bluff and said they were even prepared to resign enbloc if their demands were not met.