Saturday, 15 October 2011

MAKE COMPENSATION PACKAGES OF STRIKING PROFESSIONS PUBLIC - FOR COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION TO JUDGE THEIR FAIRNESS!

A visit to any of the government clinics and hospitals across the country, will reveal the difficult working conditions, and the enormous stress that most of the medical doctors, nurses and the ancillary health professionals who provide the clinical staff in those health institutions with support services, have to contend with on a daily basis.

Given the worldwide demand for doctors and nurses, it is important that healthcare professionals have a decent enough compensation package, to ensure that those prepared to make the personal sacrifice involved in electing to stay in Ghana and provide care for their fellow Ghanaians who fall sick, can at least enjoy a reasonable enough living standard.

Most of those who choose to become doctors and nurses often do so because they are compassionate individuals. Such people do not embark on strike action lightly. That they have chosen to do so now, could be because they feel it is the only way to get what they believe is due them.

Clearly, Ghana is not as wealthy as the United Kingdom - and it wouldn't be possible for doctors and nurses here to be paid the same salary levels as their counterparts in the UK. In any case, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) is no longer the greener-pastures-destination for Ghanaian doctors and nurses, which it once was.

Like most of the UK's public sector, it is a victim of the massive cuts in government spending - in a cash-strapped Great Britain struggling to rebalance public finances. It is important that that is borne in mind by all those who work in government hospitals and clinics in Ghana.

Furthermore, in places like Greece, like other public sector workers, even doctors and nurses too have had their salaries cut - to help that nation reduce its gargantuan deficit.

Incidentally, there has been comment in sections of the Ghanaian media (mostly the pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) press), to the effect that the doctors and other professionals embarking on strike action, are being manipulated by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP). That is clearly nonsensical - and an insult to the intelligence of striking professionals in the health and educational sectors.

Surely, not all doctors, nurses and teachers in Ghana are pro-NPP, are they? Like some of the pro-NDC media professionals, I too loathe the powerful few elitist and tribal-supremacist individuals, who have such a vice-like grip on the NPP - but we must be fair to even our worst enemies, as decent human beings.

I am not sure what exactly statute law says about nationwide strikes, but no harm will befall Ghana, if the law is amended to ensure that any strike action that includes public sector employees, can only take place in Ghana, if all the national membership of a union or professional body/association are balloted beforehand - and approved by at least a two-thirds majority.

Above all, perhaps it would be prudent all round, for the authorities to make public, the compensation packages for doctors and nurses - and those of members of other professions that embark on strike action that disrupts the lives of ordinary Ghanaians. (In the case of doctors and nurses, for example, deaths could actually occur as a result of such strike action.)

The public can then judge for themselves whether or not their demands are unreasonable. Public opinion matters a great deal in such disputes. One hopes that those over-pampered geniuses who speak for the government will take note of this - and act promptly. A word to the wise...

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