The assertion by former Member of Parliament for Asokwa, Maxwell Kofi Jumah, which sought to suggest that doctors and teachers are below the level of MPs on social stratification has irritably stirred the hornet’s nest of doctors.
The former MP’s outburst was in response to the huge public outcry over the payment of ex-gratia to MPs at a time when teachers, doctors and other public and civil servants are protesting delays in salary arrears. With a passionate tone, he asked during a discussion on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen on Thursday, “If you are a doctor is the MP your co-equal? If you are a teacher is the MP your co-equal?”
But President of the Ghana Medical Association, Dr Kwabena Adusei Poku told Joy FM’s Top Story that although the comments were “unfortunate”, it goes to confirm the disregard people have for their concerns.
He observed that anytime doctors decide to embark on strike when all avenues to address their concerns have failed, people rather direct their anger at them and “insult” them.
“A minister called us blood money, somebody even said we have unbalanced mind when we talked about the National Health Insurance, and then a small boy at the Wages and Salary Commission said that we are ridiculous.”
Dr Adusei Poku however warned Members of Parliament to be circumspect with their utterances to maintain the respect the public have for them, especially those who by the grace of parliament have attained certain social status.
“If members of parliament want us to continue respecting them they must watch the way they speak so that we also accord them the rightful place in society.”
He however placed on record: “I don’t know of any school that teaches how to become an MP, I know a school that teaches people to become doctors and dentists… They can say what they want to say we leave it to the electorate and Ghanaians to judge them.”
He also maintained that the doctors are not in position to compare themselves to any profession, but are only demanding what is “just due and must be paid” them based on the 4th November 2011 ruling by the National Labour Commission.
The President of GMA also accused the Fair Wages and Salary Commission of being “impotent” by allowing the government to control them.
He said even though meetings have been held since 2011, parties involved have not been able to arrive at any positive result.
Dr Adusei Poku announced that the Ghana Medical Association would be meeting on Saturday to decide on their next line of action.
Meanwhile the Ghana Medical Association says it will not abide by the latest ruling issued by the Labour Commission which spells out the payment schedule of arrears owed them.
The doctors protested the payment schedule instituted by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and therefore proceeded to the Labour Commission for redress.
But the Commission upheld the decision by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
Per the ruling released on Friday, doctors will be paid in three tranches, 2012 arrears owed them and the payment will begin in May 2013.
The May payment will comprise arrears for January 2012 to April 2012. The second payment due in July will comprise arrears for May 2012 to September 2012 whilst the final payment due in September 2013 will comprise arrears of September 2012 to December 2012.
The ruling has sent members of the Ghana Medical Association angry all the more.
Its President, Adusei Poku told Joy News the ruling did not take into account the interest of the doctors and therefore they will not abide by it.
According to him, the ruling was procured by elements within government, alleging he is privy to threatening messages received by members of the Commission to accede to demands by government and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
When asked to back his allegations with evidence, the GMA president said he would not divulge it on air.
Adusei Poku could not understand why entitlements owed other public officials would be paid in full whilst that of doctors would be paid in three tranches.
According to him, the ruling from the Labour Commission has never been binding. He cited two rulings in 2011 and February 2013 which government and the Fair Wages Commission failed to implement.
It will therefore not be the first time a ruling by the Labour Commission will be disregarded, he pointed out.
Adusei Poku said the Commission has lost its power and independence because it is being controlled heavily by government officials.
He said the Association will meet on Saturday to take a full view of the ruling issued by the Commission and they will react accordingly.
However, the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission has described as unfortunate the position taken by the doctors.
Its spokesperson Earl Ankrah told Joy News the ruling by the Lbour Commission should be binding on all petitioners.