The Ghanaian government has warned the country’s striking public medical doctors under the umbrella of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) that if they refused to call off their strike by tomorrow (Thursday), it would consider their action a breach of labor laws.
Ghana’s Minister of Health, Alex Segbefia, made the ultimatum at a press conference held to review the four-week-long strike of the unrepentant public medical doctors of the country.
“Effective Thursday, 20th August, 2015 all members of GMA who have not reported and assumed full duty shall be considered as being on strike and in clear breach of the Labour Act,” Mr. Segbefia told journalists. He also said that management of government health facilities have been directed to ensure that the doctors are back to their duty post to attend to patients.
The health minister also accused the striking doctors of harrassing the few medical doctors who disobeyed GMA’s directive for a national strike, and said that the government would never succumbed to intimidation.
“It is appalling seeing members of the GMA threatening and intimidating some doctors willing to work in order to safe lives while the strike persist,” Mr. Segbefia continued. “It is their right. Any such act of threat is a criminal offence. Let us continue to behave in a tolerant manner.”
He added government pulled out of negotiations with the striking doctors and would only re-open its doors if the strike is called off.
The GMA is demanding the provision of a codified conditions of service from the government for its members.
Minister of Employment and Labour Relations Haruna Iddrisu has also condemned GMA’s action, calling it “illegal” and claiming that the government would not negotiate.
But the GMA said it continue the strike until a negotiated conditions of service agreement is produced for the striking medical doctors.
Government sources told SaharaReporters that the government has plans to secure the services of over one hundred doctors from Cuba who would soon arrive Ghana to support health care.
However, pundits have queried the decision of the government asking if the services of the Cuba doctor would be free or paid for.
Speaking with SaharaReporters on Wednesday evening, GMA General Secretary Dr. Frank Serebour said the government was only “worsening” the matter and confirmed to our correspondent that no formal communication has been reached between the striking doctors and the minister.
“Let me state categorically that the strike continues. No formal communication has been reach between our members and the government representatives,” he said.
He added that the government must produce “a signed document” to back up its decision if so willing, it wants the doctors returned to their duty post.
Public doctors in Ghana have been at odds with the government for close to a month over terms of employment despite intervention from civil societies organization and deepening crisis in public health.