…as nurses also threaten strike action

From Issah Alhassan, Kumasi

President Mills( left), Dr. Benjamin Kumbuor, Health Minister (right)

Though he successfully resolved the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) strike, the woes of President Mills appear not to be over, as currently, thousands of polytechnic students are at home following the indefinite strike embarked upon by their lecturers, who are who are demanding a pay rise.

The Labour Commission has already gone to court over the issue, after failing to convince the striking lecturers to go back to the lecture halls.

Whilst this strike is yet to be resolved, information available to The Chronicle indicates that junior nurses and midwives at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) are also likely to renew their strike action, following failure on the part of the government to fulfill a pledge made to them last month.

If this strike is carried out, it would give the President a headache, since his government has already been criticised by the opposition for failing to deal with the armed robbery menace in the country.

Reports say the junior nurses and midwives of the hospital are boiling with fury, as a result of the government’s failure to accomplish its part of the bargain, by paying their 20 months salary arrears, and may resume their strike action soon.

The junior nurses embarked on a sit down strike last month, to back demands for the payment of their 20 month’s salary arrears for services rendered, since the completion of their courses. According to the aggrieved health staff, they decided to embark on the strike action, because several attempts to get the government to address their grievances had proved futile.

However, the anger of the nurses and midwives got worse, when the Deputy Minister of Health, Mr. Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, was caught on tape during an interview with a local radio station in Kumasi, insulting them, and questioning their credibility as health staff.

But, an intervention from the management and the Regional Health Directorate ended hostilities, while an agreement was reached to pay them by the close of October, this year.

It appears however, that the government had once again, reneged on the promise, and this had infuriated the junior staff, who were contemplating resuming their strike action.

Meanwhile, a source at the hospital has dispelled rumours that the nurses were yet to receive their salaries, explaining that most of the junior nurses have had their arrears paid to them, except a few ones who could not receive theirs due to certain technicalities, which the source said, were being rectified by the Ministry of Health.

The source further explained that out of 91 nurses whose papers were processed to the Ministry, about 71 of them have had their arrears paid to them, while the discrepancies in the documents of the remaining 14 were being rectified to facilitate payment.

An official source, who spoke to The Chronicle yesterday, said there were some irregularities during the payments, but the attention of the Ministry was drawn to them, and that the appropriate steps were being taken to get the monies released to them.

The source however, admitted that the midwives were yet to receive their earnings, as at the time the payments were made, and indicated however, that the affected staff would be paid in due course.

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