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Aug 18, 2015

Gov’t submits new conditions to striking doctors


The government has presented new conditions of service proposal to the striking members of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) to serve as a guide to the ongoing negotiations between the two parties in the labour dispute.

The new proposal, likely to be favourable to the two parties involved in the negotiations, is to provide for equity for all medical doctors and dentists of the Ghana Health Service (GHS) by applying the same standards and principles in matters that concern that category of health professionals.

The document, sighted by the Daily Graphic, also envisages the planning for engagement, remuneration, promotion, labour relations and discipline, end of service, and other benefits within that sector. The Minister of Health,

Mr Alex Segbefia, in a foreword to the framework, decried the lack of clear-cut conditions of service document for medical doctors and dentists within the public health sector. What had been in existence over the years, he said, were various human resource policies and guidelines scattered in a number of documents.

“This piecemeal approach to dealing with the most important resource in the health sector- its human resource, led to disparate, inconsistent and sometimes incoherent policies and directives across the agencies under the care of the ministry,” the foreword said.

Some conditions For fuel allocation, the document said doctors from the grade of senior specialists to consultants would be entitled to a monthly allocation of 50 gallons, while those from principal medical officer to specialist would have 40 gallons and house officers to senior medical officers would be entitled to 30 gallons. The facilities where the doctors work would take up the cost of the fuel allocations.

The document said additional duty allowance would be paid to a medical doctor or a dentist who had been asked in writing to take additional responsibility for a position, together with his or hers, and that such a duty would not be for more than six months. Such an additional responsibility should also be at the same level as the doctor was currently holding.

Doctors who work in excess of the mandatory 40 hours a week would be paid overtime allowances at the rate of one and half times of their daily salary, while overtime payment for work done on Saturdays, Sundays and other statutory public holidays shall be calculated at the rate of double their daily salary.

Background The GMA has been on strike since July 30, 2015 over the absence of conditions of service for doctors, dentists and other professionals in the health sector.

At a general assembly meeting in Accra last Friday, members of the GMA from all over the country voted to continue their industrial action and attend only to in-patients.

They charged the executive to ensure that they had a signed conditions of service document in two weeks or they would begin processes towards withdrawing their services completely.

A standardised policy directive In a fresh attempt to resolve the industrial dispute, the government came up with new proposals for consideration by the parties involved in the dispute.

Mr Segbefia’s foreword said the document was aimed at curing those “ills by providing a standardised policy directive that deals with industrial relations of its sector employees justly and fairly”.

He said to engender trust, transparency and ownership, the document had been developed with the active involvement of the the ministry, agencies of the ministry, the GMA, the Public Services Commission (PSC), the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC), the Ministry of Finance and the Attorney General’s Department and Ministry of Justice. The document contains three sessions.

The first one focuses on general conditions which refer to conditions and benefits that apply to all employees, regardless of rank or status, while the second deals with the rank or grade or category-related conditions which are conditions and benefits applicable only to certain ranks, grades or categories of employees working in specific positions, work locations and risk environments, and the third dwells on the conditions and benefits that are profession-specific.

New strategies Mr Segbefia said bringing together all the relevant stakeholders to develop the framework was another demonstration of the government’s commitment to deepen good governance, accountability and transparency in the way it dealt with medical doctors and dentists and the Ghanaian public.

He, therefore, underscored the need for the Ministry of Health to come up with new strategies and refocus its policies and actions to provide quality, accessible, affordable and equitable health services for all Ghanaians and better respond to emerging new diseases both nationally and internationally.

Reaction from GMA Meanwhile the Deputy General Secretary of the GMA, Dr Justice Yankson, has said the GMA is not aversed to returning to the negotiation table but added that the association will not be forced by the government to return to work when the details of the conditions of service have not been finalized. – Graphic Online