Junior doctors have given their strongest indication yet that they will resist any attempt to compel them to accede to compulsory arbitration.
The doctors say their past experiences with compulsory arbitration teach them that they can never get fairness through such a process.
As part of efforts to get the Ghana Medical Association go call off the strike it declared last Monday to press home the demand for swift migration of doctors and junior nurses onto the single spine pay policy, the National Labour Commission has directed the GMA to go into compulsory arbitration with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission.
The NLC is relying on Section 164 of the Labour Act (Act 651) which provides that unresolved disputes should be settled by compulsory arbitration after the matter has been referred to the National Labour Commission.
If the directive is adhered to, it would mean the strike will naturally come to an end because that is the requirement of the Labour Act 2003.
But the doctors say they suffered despicable arbitrariness the last time they submitted to compulsory arbitration on the say-so of the NLC and they will not subject themselves to such unfairness again by acceding to the process.
Speaking to Joy FM’s Super Morning Show host Kojo Oppong Nkrumah Monday, the Public Relations Officer of the Junior Doctors Association, Dr Justice Yankson, warned the leadership of the GMA against buckling under pressure or pandering to the whims of the NLC and the government.
If they do, he cautioned, and the doctors are subjected to another round of arbitrariness and unfairness, the junior doctors, he assured will never return to the wards.
“We’ve …noted that government is trying to play a game; they want to push or stampede the GMA through an unfair compulsory arbitration…but we want to assure them that members of the Junior Doctors Association and GMA at large will resist that,” he stated.
Dr Yankson said the junior doctors “are ready to contest any award” that will be given by any arbitration committee “that is not in our interest and at the same time that is not based on the facts on the ground.”
He said the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission had shown enough bad faith as far as addressing the grievances of the doctors was concerned.
The Commission, he noted, ignored a two-week ultimatum by the GMA to have their concerns addressed or they would go on strike and even when the action was declared, it remained in vogue for five solid days before the FWSC saw the need to call the leadership of the GMA for a discussion.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive of the FWSC, Mr George Smith Graham, the PRO of the junior doctors noted, had been hopping from radio station to another unfairly whipping up public sentiments against the doctors instead of settling down to address the concerns of the doctors.
Dr Yankson said Mr Graham must leave the public commentary for his PRO to do and sit down and tackle the problems confronting the migration of the doctors onto the SSSS.
Responding to the issues, caretaker Health Minister, Haruna Iddrisu said the doctors must respect the laws of Ghana.
He said the doctors must “demonstrate respect for the institutions that are responsible for (resolving the impasse); the Fair Wages Commission is a creation of law mandated with responsiblity for this kind of negotiation.”
Mr Iddrisu is optimistic there will be a breakthrough when members of the Ghana Medical Association meet the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission today.
The meeting follows a breakdown in talks called by the Acting Minister with the doctors yesterday in an attempt to resolve the concerns by doctors over the new pay policy structure.