Labour Commission drags striking doctors to court

law-and-justiceThe National Labour Commission (NLC) Wednesday began processes at the Accra High Court to compel striking doctors to go back to work.

The Executive Secretary of the NLC, Mr Edward Biriku-Boadu, told the Daily Graphic that the commission wanted doctors to comply with its directive of April 10, 2013.

But the President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, said the NLC was behaving irresponsibly by reneging on its duty to take the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to court in November 2011 when the FWSC failed to go by the NLC’s ruling on market premiums and other concerns and wondered how the NLC had found its clout now to take doctors to court.

“It is shameful that in a country of a minimum of 2,300 doctors the government cannot pay them but rather dodges its responsibility by hiding behind suits,” Dr Opoku-Adusei said.

“All doctors will meet them in court, and we have competent lawyers to lead our case. They must remember that all doctors, including those in private service, are part of the GMA. Doctors are not afraid of the courts and the executives are prepared to be incarcerated for a good cause,” he added.

Dr Opoku-Adusei cited several instances when the FWSC had failed to go by the directive of the NLC, with no action from the NLC.

He referred to the Labour Act, which enjoins the commission to go to court to enforce its directive if any party fails to obey it, and wondered why it had not done so in those instances.

On April 10, 2013, the NLC heard submissions at a meeting of the representatives of the FWSC,  the GMA and the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

After the commission had heard the parties, it directed that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOFEP) commit itself to a schedule of payment of the market premium for 2012, while that for 2013 should be negotiated and paid in line with the government’s guidelines on the payment of market premium as approved by the Cabinet.

The NLC also directed that all other concerns be addressed through negotiations and that all parties should commit to the process and conduct negotiations in good faith.

It further directed that with the commitment given by MOFEP and the FWSC, buttressed by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, and in exercise of its powers under the Labour Act (651), doctors should call off their strike and resume work immediately.

It said subsequent to the directive, all the parties met at the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations on April 11, 2013, during which a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed by representatives of all the parties.

The application at the High Court is to enforce a directive of April 10, 2013 for the GMA to call off its strike, while negotiations continue in good faith between the GMA and the government on issues of concern.

An affidavit in support of the motion said the GMA, on April 8, 2013, served a notice dated April 7, 2013 on the NLC, stating that having exhausted all avenues for redress of their grievances, the GMA had decided to withdraw its services.

The NLC, in the affidavit, said the MoU further affirmed a payment schedule agreed to previously on the market premium and further agreed to the payment of the 2013 market premium in two instalments of two months’ payment in June and August 2013, among other agreements.

The MoU, according to the affidavit, was signed by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Nii Armah Ashitey; the President of the GMA, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei; the Acting Director of the Economic Research and Forecasting Division of MOFEP, Dr Alhassan Iddrisu, and the General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah.

“That in spite of the said directive of the NLC and the MoU that was voluntarily arrived at by the parties, the GMA has failed to call off the illegal strike, to the end that Ghanaians are feeling the brunt of the said illegal strike,” the affidavit of the NLC said.

Source: Daily Graphic

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