The Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Haruna Iddrisu has stated emphatically that some of the doctors’ demands in their conditions of service can simply not be met.
He cited doctors’ proposal to retire on their salaries as constitutionally provided for the President and other article 71-office holders.
The GMA wants all members of the association who attain the rank of Principal Medical Dental Officer and above to retire on their last salaries when they have served a minimum of 15 years in the Ministry of Health agencies.
However, Haruna Iddrisu insisted on Citi FM that the proposal cannot be considered.
“In some matters, we have written officially to them that this we can do, this we cannot do, and this is subject to further negotiations. An example is doctors wanting to retire on their salaries, Article 71 itself, the President has called for a review of it. The constitutional review recommended independent emolument committee.”
He further argued, “We simply told the GMA that, that matter is constitutional and therefore we have no legal mandate to make a determination of it. I cannot determine as a Minister, who should retire on his salary. It’s a matter for the constitution. Those that the constitutional drafters wanted to, they did so for them. Whatever it is, it is not a matter that can be resolved today or tomorrow,” he added.
The Minister of Employment explained that government is not against the provision of a codified conditions of service for doctors in the country.
According to him, what government is against is the way the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) is handling the issue.
“Government commenced negotiations with GMA as one group of many among health service workers who are desirous and have demanded to have a codified conditions of service. In principle, government is not against it and indeed government is committed to it and will work towards its attainment with the corporation and collaboration of the GMA.”
“The conditions of service document is a choice chapter document. The only matter in issue and contention now is issues relating to matters of remuneration and allowances. And I believe strongly that we will wither the storm,” the Minister added.
The GMA has vowed not to call off it’s strike despite several calls, unless government provides a codified condition of service.
Several negotiations between government and the GMA broke down following disagreements between the two parties.
Government subsequently pulled out of the negotiations to force the GMA to call off its strike; lamenting that it cannot negotiate under duress.
Haruna Iddrisu explained that “…it is charged principle of labour negotiations that you cannot be striking while negotiating.”
He said “we have continuously persuaded GMA to abandon that cause of action and allow us to use social dialogue, in order that we can resolve our differences,” but to no avail.
Haruna Iddrisu again urged the doctors to call off the strike saying “President Mahama and his government is committed to conclude negotiations with the GMA, and I’m sure their leadership will celebrate when we do close this deal as having been the generation of GMA leaders who succeeded in getting government commit to a codified conditions of service.”